Fruity Frozen Yogurt

As Stew and I wandered around Whole Foods the other day, eating all the samples we could get our hands on (there’s really no need to eat lunch when you’re going to Whole Foods), we stopped at the Vitamix man for a chat (and free samples). As a vitamix owner myself, I love hearing his spiel on it because it’s ALL TRUE!  I can’t even say enough on how amazing this thing is. I know $500 is expensive for a blender, but it’s like a food processor and blender all in one! And it lasts FOREVER! It’s definitely worth putting some money aside to start a Vitamix Savings Fund. The reason I am talking so much about the vitamix (no I’m not being paid) is because I wouldn’t make this recipe in a regular blender because it will burn the motor out. You can try it in a food processor if you don’t have a vitamix though.

Now, back to the FroYo. The other night Stew and I were watching TV, and I was wanting some sort of dessert. I was going through my options, then BAM, Vitamix Man came into my mind. He had made this “ice cream” at Whole Foods that had spinach, pineapple, bananas, apple juice and strawberries. It was so good and refreshing. I didn’t have most of those ingredients so I came up with a frozen yogurt of my own! Hence my fruity frozen yogurt. It was SO good! I felt satisfied and definitely guilt free after that dessert.

Fruity Frozen Yogurt

Serves 1-2 (depending how hungry you are)

1 frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1/4 package unsweetened acai smoothie pack*

1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt

2 Tbsp mango juice

2 teaspoons agave nectar

Place all ingredients into your vitamix. Start out on slow, and turn the power up to high over the next few seconds. Use the tamper to constantly push down the corners until you have a soft serve texture and everything is combined. Serve as is for soft serve, or place mixture into the freezer for about 3 hours. Scoop out with an ice cream scoop. Top with fruit of your choice and enjoy!

Chai Spice

Chai Spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground pepper
pinch salt
Combine all ingredients in a small airtight spice jar. Shake to combine. Store in a dark cool place.

Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Chip Granola

I’ve been in total baking mode lately. I’m pretending it’s Fall, even though it’s still 90 degrees during the day. The only problem with baking is that I end up with all of these empty calorie laden treats calling my name case in point, the chocolate chip cookies sitting on my kitchen counter that I’m hoping the hubs will eat before I do! I was all ready to make a pumpkin spice cake filled with WHITE flour and ZERO nutritional value. Then I thought, let me see if I can create a semi-healthy recipe that will satisfy my empty calorie-pumpkin-spice craving! Well, let me tell you, I DID IT! When I bit into this granola, I felt like I was in pumpkin pie heaven! I opted to put in just enough chocolate chips for a sweet bite, but not too many where I’d feel guilty after eating it. You can definitely leave the chocolate chips out and replace them with nuts or dried cranberries, which would be delicious too! I wish you could have been here while this was baking. It literally smelled like Thanksgiving in my house (minus all the calories)! I hope you enjoy this little Fall treat! 
Pumpkin Spice & Chocolate Chip Granola
3 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
 1/4 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients in your standing mixer and, using the paddle attachment, stir on low until well combined. Spread the granola onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. GENTLY toss the outer granola into the center so the edges don’t burn. Keep in mind, the chocolate chips are melted and will spread throughout the granola a bit. That’s ok! Continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Let cool COMPLETELY on the baking sheet. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Classic Key Lime Pie

Growing up, my mom always made the BEST key lime pie! Stew and I went to our supper club the other night and the theme was “A South Carolina Supper”. Annie and Jeremy were the hosts and they prepared a Lowcountry Boil with tomatoes and okra as a side dish. I thought my mom’s key lime pie would be the perfect refreshing dessert! I never realized how easy it is to make! Personally, I think the secret is Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice she uses. You can get it in every grocery store. It’s so delicious!

Start with the crust. Combine the pecans and graham crackers into the food processor. Pulse until small crumbs form. Then pour the melted butter in as it blends. The mixture will come together nicely. Pour it into your greased pie dish and bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. It will look like this.

While that cools, make the filling. Combine the condensed milk, egg yolks, lime zest, and key lime juice. Mix until smooth and creamy. Pour into the crust and bake for another 25-30 minutes. The outside will be set, but the center will still move. That’s ok! It will set as it chills.

Let that cool completely. Then, cover it and chill it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Decorate with homemade whipped cream and serve chilled. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Classic Key Lime Pie-Serves 8

1/2 C chopped pecans

2 C graham cracker crumbs

1/2 C butter, melted

2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk

6 egg yolks

2 tsp. lime zest

1 C key lime juice

Whipped Cream

Lime slices (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine pecans and graham crackers in food processor and pulse until crumbs are formed. Turn on food processor and pour melted butter through the feed tube until well combined. Give a few extra pulses to mix together. Spray a 10 inch pie dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the crumb mixture into the dish and press the bottom and up the sides with a spoon until an even crust is formed. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until browned. Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes.

In a standing mixer with whisk attachment, combine condensed milk, egg yolks, lime zest, and key lime juice. Whisk until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until set around the edges. The center will not be set, but it will set up while it chills. Cool completely on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Decorate with whipped cream and lime slices. Serve chilled.

Whipped Cream

This is a go-to recipe for any dessert or drink. It’s not too sweet but has great flavor. Keep this recipe on hand!

Whipped Cream

8 oz cold heavy whipping cream

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pour COLD whipping cream into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Mix on medium speed until cream starts to get thicker (about 1 minute). Then increase the speed and whip until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes). Add the vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat on high for another minute until stiff peaks form. Don’t over mix or you’ll have butter! Once the cream stands up on the whisk attachment, it’s done. Chill until ready to use.

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

I came home for lunch the other day, and I was starving but didn’t know what to eat. This happens a lot lately! So I saw that I had an avocado that was starting to look pretty sorry….Avocado salad? No. Guacamole? No. Then I got to thinking that I really wanted ice cream. This brought me to my frozen yogurt concoction! I just threw all of the ingredients into my food processor, not knowing what to expect. And I was pleasantly surprised! I sat on the porch and ate my delicious lunch feeling quite pleased with myself that I was eating “frozen yogurt” for lunch without an ounce of guilt!

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

1 cup frozen bananas

1/2 ripe avocado

2 tsp peanut butter

1 Tbsp coco powder

1 tsp agave nectar

2 Tbsp almond milk

Combine all ingredients, except almond milk, in a food processor. Pulse a few times to break up the bananas. Scrape down the sides with a spatula. Turn the food processor on, and slowly pour almond milk through the feed tube. You may not need all of it, so go slow. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides. Continue to pulse until the mixture is smooth like a frozen yogurt. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Muffins

I have been loving muffins these days. Last week I made morning glory muffins (that recipe is to come). This week I had some lovely blueberries that I wanted to use, hence my lemon blueberry ricotta muffins. Ricotta cheese makes these muffins so moist and fluffy! They’re so refreshing.

Start by combining the lemon zest and lemon juice. Let that sit and get nice and lemonie while you get the rest of the ingredients together. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Wash and dry the blueberries. In a standing mixture, beat the ricotta cheese until it’s smooth. Then add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Next, beat in the buttermilk and the extract.

Mix in the dry ingredients, about 1/3 at a time, followed by the lemon juice/zest mixture. Then fold in the blueberries. Use about ½ cup ice cream scoop to fill muffin tins.

I’ll be honest, I don’t usually let muffins cool before eating them. These were no exception. There’s nothing like a warm muffin right out of the oven! 

Blueberry Lemon & Ricotta Muffins

zest of 1 lemon

1 lemon, juiced

1 C ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1 C buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 C all purpose flour

1 C Oat flour

3/4 C sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup fresh blueberries washed and dried.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 15 muffin tins with paper liners.

Combine the lemon zest and lemon juice. Let that sit and get nice and lemonie while you get the rest of the ingredients together.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Beat the ricotta cheese until it’s smooth. Then add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Next, beat in the buttermilk and the extract.

Mix in the dry ingredients, about 1/3 at a time, along with the lemon juice/zest mixture. Fold in the blueberries. Use about ½ cup ice cream scoop to fill muffin tins.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze in a ziplock bag and they thaw out nicely!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

My husband and I bring our lunches to work everyday. Stew does it because he has no other choice in the construction world, and I do because I choose to spend my lunch hour at the gym! So the other day he said to me, “Can you make your chocolate chip cookies so I can eat them for lunch?” Keep in mind, these are completely full of butter and sugar and bad for you. But, being the loving wife I am, I gave in… just this once. I’ll eventually post those since everyone needs a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe! So I made him his cookies and then made myself a healthier, but equally as delicious, version.

They do have quite a bit of brown sugar, so next time I would use less, probably 1/2 a cup. You could probably even substitute maple syrup or agave to get the sweetness instead of using sugar. I like to experiment with those as substitutions, because I don’t like eating too much sugar. So these are not really “guilt free” but they’re better than the buttery alternative! These are for those days that you reeeeaally want a cookie, but don’t want to blow your day by feeling really guilty. As far as the goodies inside, you can always substitute a different flour if you don’t like rice flour and any dried fruit. I’ve tried a combination of apricot, raisin, and craisins before but didn’t have those in the house this time. Let your palate decide!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 Tbsp butter, softened

1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 very ripe banana, mashed

2 egg whites

2 Tbsp peanut butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1  1/3 cup rice flour

1 cup gluten free oats

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup craisins

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine butter, oil, and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on high speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the mashed banana, egg whites, peanut butter, and vanilla and mix to combine. Add flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda and mix to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and craisins. You can substitute other dried fruit and nuts as well. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray. Using a small ice cream scoop, place the cookies on the pan two inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned but still soft. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 1 minute. Remove from pan and let cookies cool on racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week. If you’d like to save them, place in an airtight container and freeze. These cookies are delicate and fall apart easily so handle with care!

Cake Pop Placecards

My husband and I have some friends who get together once a month for a supper club. The couple who hosts is responsible for the main dish and the theme. We have such a blast getting together with each other! Stew and I were the hosts this month. Our theme was “Cupid’s Calling” for Valentine’s Day. With a little help from Pinterest, I planned the most romantic Valentine’s supper! Our main course was pork tenderloin with a balsamic glaze served with whipped potatoes. Each couple brings either a side, dessert, or drink. This makes it less stressful for the host!

In my searching, I came across cake pop place cards. Now, I LOVE cake pops! They’re so fun because you can use them for anything! I made them for halloween and shaped them into ghosts. They’re super easy, and once you have a basic recipe, you can turn them into whatever you want. So I make a batch of the cake balls and freeze what I don’t use. Just take them out to sit at room temperature when it’s time to decorate! I start with a basic chocolate box cake recipe and bake the cake according to the package instructions. Then, let the cake cool, cut into chunks, and mix with 1/4 cup store bought cream cheese frosting in your standing mixer. You can add more icing if you need a wetter mixture. Remember, you can always add more icing, but you can’t take it out!

Melt about two tablespoons of the white chocolate pieces in the microwave. This will act as the glue for the sticks. Dip one end of the stick into the chocolate and push it into the bottom of the cake ball. Place the pops stick side up so the chocolate can harden. 

Then, spray a large plate with nonstick spray so the chocolate won’t stick to the plate. Melt 1/2 a bag of the white chocolate pieces in a microwave safe bowl for 15 second increments, stirring after each. Add in the food coloring to achieve the darkness of your liking (I use a toothpick so I don’t add too much at once). Dip the chocolate cake into the melted chocolate and place on the prepared plate to dry (If you were making cake pops instead of place cards, you would place the stick into a piece of foam so that they dry sitting upright). 

Once the chocolate hardens, melt about 1/2 cup white chocolate pieces in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each. Spoon into a piping back and use a small round tip to pipe tiny white dots onto the cake pop. Once the chocolate dots harden, place the pops into cellophane bags, stick side up. Punch a whole into the top of each name tag. Tie a piece of ribbon around the top of the bag, looping both ends through the whole in the name tag. Tie a pretty bow and voilà!

Cake Pop Place Cards –

This recipe makes about 45 cake balls, depending on the size. I only used 10 for my place cards and froze the rest.

1 box Chocolate cake mix

1 tbsp instant coffee powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

pop sticks

1 can cream cheese frosting

1 bag white melting chocolates

pink food coloring

10 cellophane bags

ribbon

name tags

Bake the cake according to the package instructions. Then, let the cake cool completely. Cut into large chunks and mix with 1/4 cup store bought cream cheese frosting in your standing mixer. You can add more icing if you need a wetter mixture. Remember, you can always add more icing, but you can’t take it out!

Melt about two tablespoons of the white chocolate pieces in the microwave. This will act as the glue for the sticks. Dip one end of the stick into the chocolate and push it into the bottom of the cake ball. Place the pops stick side up so the chocolate can harden.

Then, spray a large plate with nonstick spray so the chocolate won’t stick to the plate. Melt 1/2 a bag of the white chocolate pieces in a microwave safe bowl for 15 second increments, stirring after each. Add in the food coloring to achieve the darkness of your liking (I use a toothpick so I don’t add too much at once). Dip the chocolate cake into the melted chocolate and place on the prepared plate to dry (If you were making cake pops instead of place cards, you would place the stick into a piece of foam so that they dry sitting upright).

Once the chocolate hardens, melt about 1/2 cup white chocolate pieces in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each. Spoon into a piping back and use a small round tip to pipe tiny white dots onto the cake pop. Once the chocolate dots harden, place the pops into cellophane bags, stick side up. Punch a whole into the top of each name tag. Tie a piece of ribbon around the top of the bag, looping both ends through the whole in the name tag. Tie a pretty bow and voilà! You will have left over sticks, ribbon, and chocolate. But you can use these for the next batch of cake pop place cards!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Ok… these are the best creation ever! I’m definitely a health conscious eater. My philosophy is, you are what you eat. I feel better when I eat well. I’ve even grown to crave and love healthy food! Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a sweet tooth just like the next person! That is why I need a little sweet bite ready when a craving hits! So I combined my two favorite flavors, chocolate and peanut butter, to make these cookie bites! They couldn’t be easier, and they’re actually good for you! How many desserts can you say that about? I keep them in the fridge so they are a bit firmer than when they sit at room temp. Just be careful, you can’t just eat one!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

            1/2 cup almond meal

            1/2 cup regular rolled oats (Use GF oats if you want it GF)

            2 tbsp cocoa powder

            1/2 tsp kosher salt

            2 tbsp agave nectar

            3 tbsp peanut butter

            3 tbsp pure maple syrup (add gradually until desired consistency is achieved)

            1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a food processor, process the oats until very fine, like a flour consistency.

2. Add in the almond meal, cocoa powder, salt, and agave and pulse until combined. Now add in vanilla and maple syrup gradually until desired consistency is achieved. Process until a dough forms. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Dough will be very sticky! If it is too sticky to make balls, you can add a bit more almond meal.

3.Scoop dough into a bowl. Use a small ice cream scoop to form balls with the dough (lightly wet fingers if necessary). Roll them between your hands to form a ball. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Note: If dough is too dry, add a bit more maple syrup. If too wet, add a bit more almond meal.