Caprese Skewers…Super Easy and Elegant Appetizer

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My family loves to get together for cocktails, appetizers and desserts.  We enjoy sitting around visiting with each other and having little plates of fabulous finger foods…this always leaves room for a yummy cocktail and a decadent dessert without stuffing ourselves silly with a huge meal in between (we have learned this lesson the hard way)!

This appetizer really doesn’t need much explanation.  It is super easy, requires no cooking and looks absolutely beautiful on a plate.  You can make this recipe as big or as small as you’d like, we generally have 5 or 6 different appetizers so we plan one of these per person, this recipe is for 6 skewers.

Caprese Skewers

6 wooden skewers

18 sweet cherry tomatoes

12 small fresh mozzarella balls

2 Tbsp. pesto

12 basil leaves

In a small bowl, toss fresh mozzarella in the pesto and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Assemble the skewers by alternating the ingredients…start with a tomato, next a pesto marinated mozzarella ball, then a fresh basil leaf.  Repeat, ending with a cherry tomato.  Trim the ends of the skewers if necessary to fit on your serving dish.

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Our latest appetizer get together with the Caprese Skewers as the beautiful centerpiece!

This recipe is shared at:

5 Ingredient Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Gluten-Free Fridays, Wednesday Extravaganza

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Chocolate PB Cupcakes

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Better late than never!  Sorry for the delay in posting this awesome recipe…

This recipe is adapted from my absolute favorite cupcake cookbook, Gluten Free Cupcakes by Elana Amsterdam

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

1/2 cup blanched almond flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. Celtic sea salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter, melted

1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave, honey or coconut palm nectar)

1/4 cup chopped peanuts (for topping)

Filling:

1/2 cup creamy roasted peanut butter (almond butter is nice too!)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. Celtic sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line 9 muffin cups with paper or silicone liners.

For the cupcakes, in a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and maple syrup.  Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined.

For the filling, in a small bowl combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt and stir until smooth.

To assemble, spoon one tablespoon of the cupcake batter into the bottom of each muffin cup. Next, spoon one tablespoon of filling into each muffin cup.  Divide the remaining batter evenly between the muffin cups covering the filling completely.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted about 1/2″ from the edge of the cupcake (to avoid the filling) comes out with only a few moist crumbs.  Remove from oven and let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 1 hour, then frost with ganache and top with chopped nuts.

Chocolate Ganache:

3/4 cup heavy cream

8 ounces dark chocolate chips or chopped

1 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a small sauce pan, bring the heavy cream to a boil and immediately remove from heat.  Pour over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and salt and whisk together until smooth.  Let the ganache cool to room temp and then place in the refrigerator to thicken, about 15 – 20 minutes.  Store any leftover ganache in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

This post is shared at:

5 Ingredient Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Gluten-Free Fridays, All Gluten Free Desserts, Wednesday Extravaganza

Glazed Lemon Muffins

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I’m not sure what my problem is with lemon but…I just don’t like the sound of it in my food.  I’m not saying that I don’t like the taste of it once it’s there but recipes like Lemon Bars, Lemon Pie, Lemon Dill Salmon, Lemon Chicken NEVER appeal to me…meaning I would never tear a recipe out of a magazine or order off a menu anything with lemon (or lime, for that matter!) in the title.  Weird, I know.  Especially since I enjoy the taste of pretty much each and every recipe I’ve encountered with those very ingredients!   I rarely make anything lemon or lime either.

According to my mother my dad LOVES lemon desserts, however, he is also a chocoholic (like me) so it never really occurred to me that he would actually want a lemon dessert over chocolate.  So, in honor of Father’s Day I prepared these delicious looking and smelling Glazed Lemon Muffins.  We will see if he is pleasantly surprised with lemon but I will surely have something chocolate prepared as back up!  My mom says they just might be her favorite dessert I’ve prepared…Humm…maybe, just maybe, she is the one who loves lemon desserts because she sure doesn’t like the chocolate ones… 😉

  This recipe is adapted from Kelly’s recipe for Lemon Bread at Primally Inspired.

Glazed Lemon Muffins

Muffins:

3 eggs

2 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter, melted

zest and juice from one lemon (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup almond milk

3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

1/3 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. Celtic sea salt

Glaze:

1 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter

1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

1 Tbsp. almond milk

zest and juice from 1/2 a lemon (about 2 Tbsp.)

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a muffin tin with 6 silicone muffin cups or grease the tin very well with coconut oil.

In a small saucepan combine the ingredients for the glaze, bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly then remove from heat and allow to cool for 45-60 minutes.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, almond milk and maple syrup.  Stir in the coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt. Mix until well combined.  Divide equally between the muffin liners, about 1/4 cup each.  Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow the muffins to cool in the tin on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.

Remove the muffins from the silicon cups or muffin tin and set on the wire rack, place a piece of parchment paper under the wire rack to catch the glaze drizzle.  Drizzle the glaze over the muffins as desired and then place in the refrigerator to set the glaze for about 30 minutes.

Makes 6 muffins.

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This post is shared at:

5 Ingredient Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love, Wednesday Extravaganza, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Gluten-Free Fridays, All Gluten Free Desserts

Cherry Almond Crumble

This dessert has become a household favorite!  It is so simple to make and is so delicious I’m sure it will be a favorite in your home as well!  I LOVE cherries so it usually the fruit I choose to use but it is also delicious with blueberries, raspberries or peaches…I’ve included some of my favorite variations at the bottom of the post.

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Cherry Almond Crumble

Cherries:

4 cups pitted sweet cherries

zest and juice from 1 orange

1 1/2 tsp. almond or vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. maple syrup (or any sweetener you like)

Crumble:

1 cup almond flour

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (again, any sweetener you like)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

6 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil, melted

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place 8 ramekins or custard cups on the pan.

In a large bowl combine the cherries, maple syrup, vanilla, orange zest and juice.  Spoon the cherry mixture evenly into each ramekin, about 1/2 cup each.

In a separate bowl stir together the almond flour, palm sugar, almonds, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Pour the melted butter or coconut oil over the dry mix and stir to moisten.  Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the crumble topping over the cherries.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the topping is golden and the cherries are bubbling.  Serve warm topped with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8.

Recipe Variations:

  • Blueberries with lemon juice and zest
  • Sliced peaches, omit the juice and zest, toss peaches with 2 Tbsp. peach fruit spread (I like St.Dalfours)
  • Raspberries, add an additional Tbsp. of sweetener if the raspberries are too tart
  • Swap chopped pecans or walnuts for the sliced almonds
  • Bake the entire dessert in an 8×8 glass baking dish rather than individual ramekins
  • To make a lower carb dessert use Swerve or any granulated erythritol in place of the maple syrup and palm sugar

This post is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, All Gluten-Free Desserts, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love, Wednesday Extravaganza, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Wheat-Free Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Gluten-Free Fridays

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato stuffed with bacon, onion, mushrooms and spinach.

I LOVE sweet potatoes, I would probably eat them at every meal if I could.  I like them baked, fried or sautéed, diced, sliced or even pureed but I am really loving them stuffed!  The recipe and photo shown here is currently my favorite way to stuff them but the possibilities are endless (think any great pizza toppings and you’re set!), you can top them with anything you like and customize them to meet your dietary needs.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, about 8 to 10 oz each and scrubbed clean
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 ounces cheese (I like to use raw Monterrey Jack)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake on the middle oven rack.
  2. Bake until the sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a knife and cooked through, about 45-60 minutes depending on size. Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle.
  3. While the sweet potatoes are baking, make the topping. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crispy.  Remove from pan, cool and crumble.  Add the mushroom and onion to the pan with the bacon drippings and saute until tender, add spinach and cook until wilted.  Remove from heat.
  4. Slice sweet potatoes in half lengthwise to expose cooked insides, slightly press down the meat of the potato to flatten.  Divide the vegetable mixture evenly between the four halves, top with cheese and crumbled bacon and place under the broiler until melted.  Finally, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Serve half a stuffed potato as a side dish or a whole one with a mixed green salad as a meal.

This post is shared at:

5 Ingredient Mondays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Wednesday Extravaganza, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Wheat-Free Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Gluten-Free Fridays

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (2 net carbs!)

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This has got to be one of the easiest cookie recipes on the planet!  It’s really just a standard flour-less peanut butter cookie recipe, I just replaced the sugar with erythritol and it’s only 4 ingredients, one mixing bowl, one spoon and one cookie sheet! Oh, and if you eat them all in one day then you won’t even need to dirty a container to store them in (although this is not recommended unless you are sharing!).

I am very new to the low-carb baking world so I am limited in my knowledge of sugar replacements…so far I have only successfully used Swerve Sweetener, which is erythritol.  It is highly recommended by Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food, which is my absolute favorite low carb blog…she is a genius in the kitchen and every recipe I have tried has been AWESOME!  I like especially like Swerve since it subs 1:1 for sugar in just about any recipe…this takes all the guess-work out of substitutions also, it has no weird after-taste and won’t upset your digestive system!  I do also love stevia as a sweetener but I have yet to master using it alone in baking.  If you are not interested in a low carb version of this cookie it is easy to sub in your favorite unrefined sugar of choice, I think they would be fabulous with coconut palm sugar.

Low Carb Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup organic unsweetened peanut butter, room temperature
1 1⁄8 cup erythritol (I used Swerve)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, 1 cup erythritol, egg, and vanilla, stir well with a spoon. Roll the dough into 1″ balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. With a fork, dipped in sugar replacement to prevent sticking, press a crisscross design on each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes, turning the cookie sheet halfway through baking, remove from the oven, and sprinkle the cookies with some of the remaining sugar replacement. Cool slightly before removing from the pan to a wire cooling rack.
Makes 16 cookies.

Bacon, Egg and Blue Cheese Asparagus

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Bacon, Egg and Blue Cheese Asparagus 

2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

salt and pepper, to taste

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

  • Lay the asparagus spears in a large skillet and top with 1 inch of water. Lightly salt the water and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Drain off the cooking water.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and blue cheese until well combined but still chunky, set aside.
  • Place asparagus on a serving platter, top with chopped eggs and bacon.
  • Drizzle the entire dish with the blue cheese dressing or serve on the side.
  • Enjoy!

This post is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Wednesday Extravaganza, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Gluten-Free Friday

Delicious Grain-Free Carrot Cake

There is no better way to celebrate Spring than with a light, fresh Carrot Cake! 

This dessert always makes an appearance at my family’s Easter celebration in one form or another…cupcakes, mini-bundt cakes, 6-layered round cake and this year…a sheet cake.  No matter what size or shape it takes it never disappoints!!!

I am really into sheet cakes right now…no particular reason why, but they are functional, casual and great for serving a crowd.  I also love bar recipes for the exact same reasons.  This cake recipe works for both but I do prefer the different frosting variations since the whipped frosting is a bit thinner and seems to drizzle better over the individual bars which are a little thicker than the sheet cake.

Carrot Cake Bars

Carrot Cake Bars or Sheet Cake

1 ½ cups blanched almond flour
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ Tbsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter, melted
¼ cup maple syrup
1 ½ cups carrots, grated
½ cup walnuts plus 2 Tbsp., chopped
½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325° F
Grease a 8×8 baking pan for bars or a 9×12 quarter sheet pan for cake and line with parchment paper
In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg
In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, oil and maple syrup
Stir carrots, walnuts and raisins into wet ingredients
Stir wet ingredients into dry
Spread batter into prepared 8×8 baking pan or 9×12 sheet pan
Bake at 325° for 22 to 25 minutes
For Bars: Cool to room temperature and then turn cake out onto cutting board
Using a sharp knife, cut into 9 bars
Top cooled bars with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts

For Sheet Cake: Cool to room temperature and then turn cake out onto cutting board, remove parchment paper
Wipe out the sheet pan and return the cake to the clean pan
Spread Classic Cream Cheese Frosting over the top of the cooled cake, sprinkle with chopped walnuts
Serve and Enjoy!

Frosted Sheet Cake

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting (For Bars)

¾ cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Whip heavy cream until stiff
In a separate larger bowl, whip cream cheese until smooth, then blend in maple syrup and vanilla
With a rubber spatula, gently blend whip cream into cream cheese mixture
Store leftover frosting in an airtight jar in the refrigerator

Classic Cream Cheese Frosting (For Sheet Cake)

1 stick butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup maple syrup
½ Tbsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, whip cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer until smooth, then blend in maple syrup and vanilla
Store frosting in an airtight jar in the refrigerator until ready to use

These are great un-frosted too!

This recipe is shared at:

Wednesday Extravaganza, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Whole Foods Wednesdays, Fight Back Friday, Wheat-Free Wednesday, Gluten-Free Fridays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made From Scratch Monday,

Coffee Almond Stracciatella (Dairy-Free)

Dairy free coffee ice cream loaded with toasted almonds and Italian style chocolate chips

I know it’s the middle of winter but I’m one of those crazy people who thinks Ice Cream is a food group and should be enjoyed regularly in any season!  My fondest memories of traveling to Paris to visit my son in college are the ridiculous amount of trips we made all over town seeking out the best gelato…I tried the Stracciatella, Amorena and Pistache at each shop we visited, those are my three favorites.  This is my best attempt thus far at recreating Stracciatella.  You can easily add the Stracciatella to any flavor of ice cream you choose to make, it also goes beautifully in a cherry almond ice cream!

Coffee Almond Stracciatella

Ice cream base:

2 cans full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or equivalent sweetener of choice)

2 Tbsp. instant coffee (I used 2 packets of Starbucks Via)

4 egg yolks

1/4 tsp liquid stevia

2 Tbsp. dark rum (optional)

Mix-Ins:

3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

4 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped and melted

Heat the coconut milk, sugar and instant coffee in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until the sugar and coffee are dissolved and the mixture reaches 170 degrees.  In a separate bowl whisk together egg yolks, stevia and rum until smooth.  Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding 1 cup of the hot coconut milk mixture to the bowl while whisking continuously.  Slowly add the tempered yolks back into the remaining coconut milk mixture, stirring or whisking constantly.  Continue to heat the coconut milk mixture until it reaches 180 degrees, it will be steaming but not quite boiling.  Pour the mixture though a mesh strainer into a bowl set over ice water and cool for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from ice bath, cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.  Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers directions.

During the last few minutes of churning add the sliced almonds and then the dark chocolate (stracciatella).

Stracciatella – melt dark chocolate over low heat or in the microwave until smooth.  Drizzle a very thin stream of the warm chocolate into the ice cream during the last few minutes of churning.  If the chocolate is clinging too much to the dasher you can drizzle the chocolate over the ice cream as you layer it into the storage container, stirring it slightly while you are pouring.

When the ice cream is finished churning and mix-ins have been added transfer to a chilled air tight container and place in the freezer until firm (about 2 hours), recipe makes about 1 quart.

Scooped right from the freezer…

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

This is a super easy recipe that is packed full of flavor!

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Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

4 sweet bell peppers (any color you prefer)

2 – 4 oz. cans diced green chiles

1 pound ground beef, pork or turkey

1 egg

1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. sea salt

4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl combine chiles with ground meat and egg, add cilantro, cumin, chili powder and salt, mix thoroughly.  Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds.  Slice each pepper in half lengthwise, or optionally leave them whole. Place each half or whole pepper cut side up into a 9×13 (for halves) or 8×8 (for whole) Pyrex baking dish.  Divide the meat mixture evenly between the pepper halves or wholes.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.  Top each pepper with 1/2 – 1 ounce of shredded cheese and bake for 15 additional minutes, if you are not using the cheese bake peppers for a total of 60 minutes uncovered.
Garnish with chopped tomatoes, scallions and avocado…maybe even a dollop of sour cream!

This recipe is shared at: Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Wednesday Extravaganza

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Stuffed and ready for the oven.

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You can bake them with or without the tops.

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