Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Caramel and Chocolate and Oats…OH MY!

This year for Christmas I had intended on making a Caramel Pecan Pie so I bought a bag of those cute little individually wrapped caramels.  I ended up making a traditional Pecan Pie instead…

Then I was going to make a Caramel Apple Pie for New Year’s Day to use up the bag of cute little individually wrapped caramels that were lurking in the pantry.  But I made a Pear-Apple Galette instead…

Here it is the middle of January and those cute little individually wrapped caramels are still begging to be used, transformed into a yummy decadent dessert.  I simply had to oblige.  These kind of remind me of a Magic Cookie Bar in texture and richness…they really pack a sweet punch but have the buttery caramel flavor instead of coconut.

This recipe uses store-bought caramels but you could sub in homemade caramel or a jarred caramel sauce.  It also calls for heavy cream and butter but you could sub in coconut milk and coconut oil respectively 1:1.  If you are not gluten-free then regular all-purpose flour and any type of rolled oats can be used, I used Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats.

Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

35 individually wrapped caramels (Kraft and Brach’s are gluten-free), unwrapped

4 T. heavy cream

3/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used Cup 4 Cup)

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup light brown sugar (palm sugar works here too)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick butter, melted

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish and line with parchment paper, leave a few inches hanging over the sides for easier removal.

In a medium sauce pan, over low heat, melt together the caramels and heavy cream, stirring occasionally until smooth.  You could also use the microwave to do this!

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  Stir in the melted butter until well combined.  Press half of the oat mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Set the other half of the mixture aside.

Bake the cookie crust for about 8 minutes.  Remove and while still warm sprinkle the crust with chocolate chips and pecans.  Pour the melted caramel over the chocolate and pecans and spread evenly, not all the way to the sides if possible (usually not though!).  Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top of the caramel and press lightly into the warm caramel.

Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 12-16 minutes, or until the top is lightly toasty brown.  Remove to a wire rack to cool COMPLETELY.  Yes, this means completely…about 2 hours on the cooling rack.  Loosen the sides without the parchment paper with a sharp knife, gently lift the entire square out onto a cutting board.  Using a large sharp knife cut into 24 cookie bars.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator…they are perfectly fine at room temperature but we found the texture to be better out of the fridge!

IMG_3597

Small, but super rich and delicious!

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Pumpkin Spice Cakes with Pecan Praline Sauce

Pumpkin Cake with Maple-Vanilla Ice Cream and Pecan Praline Sauce

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple-Vanilla Ice Cream and Pecan Praline Sauce

Anyone that knows me knows that I love dessert AND that dessert really isn’t dessert for me unless it has some sort of ice cream in it or on it!  This recipe for Pumpkin Cakes with Pecan Praline Sauce was featured in the Paleo Magazine last year but didn’t list the recipe creator so I don’t have a link to the original recipe for credit, the only thing I changed was adding pumpkin pie spice rather than cinnamon and nutmeg.  I took the liberty of adding a nice healthy scoop of Homemade Maple-Vanilla Ice Cream to the top of this delightful holiday treat to help usher it into the “perfect dessert” category, the addition of the Pecan Praline topping is just enough to put it over the top!!!  These are equally good without the ice cream and even without the topping…but it’s dessert after all…just go for it!  You could even skip the cakes and just have the Maple-Vanilla Ice Cream drizzled with the Pecan Praline Topping!

Pumpkin Spice Cakes

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease 6 ramekins and set on a baking sheet.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  With a hand mixer blend eggs, oil or butter, maple syrup, pumpkin and vanilla until well combined.  Add in dry ingredients and mix well.  Divide batter among the prepared ramekins and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the center is set and springs back when lightly pressed.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the cakes from the ramekins and cool completely.

Pecan Praline Topping

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbsp. butter

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients.  Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the mixture thickens and reduces a bit, about 10 minutes or so.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Serve while still warm or refrigerate in a glass container for up to 10 days.  If storing in the refrigerator, warm the topping in the microwave or on the stove before serving.

No ice cream necessary...

No ice cream necessary…

This recipe is shared at:

 Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Gluten-Free Fridays

Frosted Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Is a frosted muffin really just a cupcake?

Autumn.

My absolute favorite time of year…I love the colors, the smells and the weather.  I love that it is Pumpkin Spice Latte season at Starbucks, although I’ve never had one, I love the way they smell.  I love the way my house looks with all my fall decorations up.  I love that all the stores are loaded with pumpkins and squash galore.  And best of all I LOVE that it’s time to dress everything up in Pumpkin Pie Spice!  This is my favorite muffin recipe, it’s only fruit sweetened so it’s not overly sweet which makes a dollop of cream cheese frosting just perfect to turn it into a weekend breakfast treat or light dessert!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

(yields 18 muffins)

2 large ripe bananas

1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted and soaked (about 6-8 dates)

5 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh roasted)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted

1 /2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional as a mix in, can use for garnish instead)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line muffin tins with paper or silicone liners or grease well with coconut oil.
  3. Place pitted dates in a bowl, cover with very hot water and soak for about 10 minutes, drain well after soaking.
  4. To a blender add bananas, pumpkin, dates, vanilla, eggs, and melted coconut oil or butter.  Puree until smooth.
  5. Sift all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  6. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir until there are no lumps.
  7. Stir in chopped pecans.
  8. Divide evenly between the muffin cups (I use an ice cream scoop which is about 1/4 cup of batter)
  9.  Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool completely on rack before frosting.
  11. Frost tops of muffins and sprinkle with additional chopped pecans and lightly dust with pumpkin pie spice.

Whipped Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

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

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

This recipe is shared at:

Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Fill Those Jars Fridays, Allergy Free Wednesday, Wednesday Extravaganza, French Cuisine Fridays, Fight Back Friday, Gluten-Free MondayGluten-Free Wednesdays , Gluten Free Fridays

Pecan & Sage Crusted Pork Cutlets

Pecan & Sage Crusted Pork Cutlet with Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Pecan & Sage Crusted Pork Cutlets

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 egg, whisked

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. water

1 cup pecan meal (or 3/4 cup pecan halves ground in food processor)

2 tsp. dried sage

2 Tbsp. coconut oil or lard for frying (or whatever fat you prefer)

  • In a shallow bowl or plate, combine flour, salt and black pepper.  In a separate shallow bowl, whisk together egg, mustard and water.  In a third shallow dish, combine pecan meal and sage.  Set aside.
  • On a flat work surface place a sheet of plastic wrap, center one piece of pork on the plastic wrap and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap.  With the flat end of a meat mallet, pound the pork to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness, beginning in the center working outward.  Repeat with remaining pork pieces.  Discard plastic wrap.
  • Dredge all sides of pork through the coconut flour mixture, shaking off any excess.  Dredge all sides of the pork through the egg mixture, shaking off any excess.  Dredge all sides of pork through pecan mixture, gently pressing the pecans onto pork.  Transfer each dredged cutlet to a large plate or dish.
  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add pork cutlets to the skillet and cook, turning only once, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove to paper towel lined plate.
  • Serve immediately or cover with foil and set aside while you prepare your side dishes.

A few tips:

  • Don’t crowd the pan, use a large enough skillet to cook the cutlets in an even layer or cook in batches adding more oil as necessary.
  • Make sure the pan and oil are hot before adding the pork otherwise the outer surface won’t crisp up but rather soak up the oil.
  • When pounding the pork into cutlets, use gentle taps with a heavy mallet, heavy pounding may tear the meat.
  • If you don’t have a meat mallet another heavy object will work such as a rolling-pin or heavy skillet.

This recipe was adapted from the Panko & Sage-Crusted Pork Cutlets recipe featured in the March 2012 issue of Clean Eating Magazine.

This recipe is shared at: Fight Back Friday

Pork cutlets pounded out to 1/4"

Dredging bowls from Williams Sonoma, love these!

Dredged cutlets ready for frying.

Fried and ready to plate...

Magic Coconut Bars

 Everyone remembers the old-fashioned Magic Cookie Bars made with a graham cracker crust, butter, chocolate chips, pecans, flaked coconut and sweetened condensed milk…heavenly, caramelly, chocolatey yummi-ness…with a nice side of gluten gut bomb, a sugar rush and then the inevitable crash!

I occasionally make treats that are fruit-sweetened or completely unsweetened that I can enjoy as part of my grain-free “paleo-primal” lifestyle but every once in a while I like to make a full-on DESSERT.  Make no mistake here…this is a special occasion treat, great to make for a party or a crowd, definitely not one to make on a Saturday night when you are alone at home!  All in all as far as desserts go it’s really not too terrible, the entire thing only has 3 tablespoons of sweetener for sixteen servings (just about 1/2 teaspoon per serving)…again not bad if you are feeding a crowd, disastrous if you eat the entire thing by yourself.  It’s a bit labor intensive but SO worth it!

Magic Coconut Bars

Crust:

3/4 cup blanched almond flour

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon coconut nectar, honey or maple syrup (optional)

1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 metal or glass dish with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides for easy removal.  Combine all ingredients for the crust in a large bowl and press firmly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack while preparing the filling.

Magic Filling:

1 can full fat coconut milk (I use Native Forest)

2 Tablespoons coconut nectar, honey or maple syrup

1 Tablespoon vanilla

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In a saucepan over medium heat bring coconut milk, sweetener and vanilla to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring frequently until it’s reduced by half.  The coconut milk mixture should be very thick, you should have about 3/4 cup once reduced, remove from heat and cool slightly.  Pour 1/2 of the condensed coconut milk over the crust and spread to the edges. Layer half of the shredded coconut, half of the chocolate chips and half of the pecans on top of the coconut milk and lightly press down on the toppings.  Add a second layer with the remaining shredded coconut, chocolate chips and pecans.  Pour remaining 1/2 of condensed coconut milk over the top of the layers.  Top with flaked coconut.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for one hour (I KNOW!) on a cooling rack.  Next, place the pan in the refrigerator and cool for 2 hours (I KNOW, I KNOW!) or in a pinch cool in the freezer for 1 hour.  Gently lift the parchment out of the pan and place bars on a cutting board or other flat surface.  Using a large knife cut into 16 squares.

Magic...

This is a lovely treat to make for Valentine’s Day!

This recipe is shared at:

Fight Back FridayFresh Bites Friday, Wellness Weekend, Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love, Make Ahead Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday

Warm Pear & Pecan Flaugnarde

Flaugnarde is a flan-like baked French dessert with fruit arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter.  Similar to a clafoutis which is made with black cherries, a flaugnarde is made with apples, peaches, pears, plums, prunes or other fruits. Resembling a large pancake, the dish can be served either warm or cold.

Pear & Pecan Flaugnarde

Most people think of this dish as a dessert but it can easily be enjoyed for breakfast as well!  This recipe uses heavy cream and butter but if you prefer a dairy-free dish substitute 3/4 cup full fat canned coconut milk for the cream and butter and use coconut oil to grease the dish.  I have made it both ways and they are equally delicious.  You will notice there is an option to add sweetener, I try to use the ripest, sweetest seasonal fruit available so I generally don’t need the added stevia or honey.  Please note…since completing the Whole 30 program I find that I don’t like anything too sweet anymore so be sure to adjust according to your family’s taste.  This is lovely topped with fresh whipped cream or drizzled with coconut butter when enjoying it for dessert or with a nice side of bacon or sausage at breakfast!

Pear & Pecan Flaugnarde (serves 8)

Ingredients:

butter for greasing baking dish

4 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup pecan halves, finely ground

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

1/4 teaspoon stevia or 1/4 cup coconut sugar or honey (optional, I don’t use any sweetener)

1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt

3 medium ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced thin

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Generously grease a 9 inch pie or tart dish, ceramic works best, set aside.  Peel, core and slice pears.  Arrange pears in the greased dish and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  In a blender or food processor combine eggs, cream, butter, ground pecans, vanilla, remaining cinnamon, sweetener (if using) and sea salt.  Blend or process until smooth, batter will be thin.  Pour batter evenly over the arranged pears, sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown, puffed and set in the middle.  Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Arranged pears in greased tart dish

This recipe is shared at:

Fight Back Friday, Make Ahead Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the bright colors outside when the leaves begin to change, the warm smells in the kitchen of seasonal vegetables roasting and the crisp feeling of the chilly air when taking the dog for a walk in the afternoon sunshine…oh and November is my birthday month (only child syndrome!).  Growing up everyone in my family loved Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip at Thanksgiving…not me, I was a Pecan Pie and vanilla ice cream girl.  My taste for all things pumpkin didn’t develop until later in life but now I simply cannot get enough of it…pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie…the list is practically endless.  Several years ago I found a recipe for the ultimate Thanksgiving dessert, Pumpkin Pecan Pie…it’s my new favorite but since following a paleo/primal diet I haven’t tried to adapt the recipe yet (don’t worry, the recipe WILL be adapted and posted before Thanksgiving this year!).  I started my fall baking this season with these wonderful Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins…they are fruit sweetened, dairy free and great for breakfast, snack and even dessert!

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins

Makes about 24 muffins

2 large ripe bananas

1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted and soaked (about 6-8 dates)

5 eggs

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh roasted)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 /2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or more/less according to your taste)

1/2 cup of pecans, chopped

24 pecan halves (optional, for topping)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease well with coconut oil.
  2. Place pitted dates in a bowl, cover with very hot water and soak for about 10 minutes, drain well after soaking.
  3. To a blender add bananas, pumpkin, dates, vanilla, eggs, and melted coconut oil.  Puree until smooth.
  4. Sift all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  5. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir until there are no lumps.
  6. Stir in chopped pecans.
  7. Divide evenly between the muffin cups (I use an ice cream scoop which is about 1/4 cup of batter).
  8. Place one pecan half on top of each muffin.
  9.  Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool completely on rack before serving.

Recipe Tips…

  • If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice add: 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves instead
  • You could omit the coconut oil and add and extra 1/4 cup of pumpkin
  • Make these an even more decadent dessert by adding 1/2 cup 70% (or greater) dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs for a completely sugar-free recipe
  • Top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream or if you tolerate dairy a dollop of fresh whipped cream

Enjoy the taste of pumpkin pecan pie everyday, guilt-free!

This recipe is shared at:

Fight Back Friday

Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday

Gluten-Free Wednesdays, This Chick Cooks

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