chocolate truffles.

You guys sure know your coconut!!!!

Coconut pancakes.

Coconut macaroons.

Coconut bread.

Coconut rice.

I’m going to be cooking with a lot of coconut this month. ūüėČ

Many people wonder if coconut is okay to eat or not, so here’s my gist of it all…

More and more studies are showing that not all saturated fats are created equal, and when it comes to coconut, the fats appear to be on the good side.

Although the studies are still in¬†their infancy stages, and although I would still¬†recommend moderation when it comes to eating coconut, coconut is made up mostly of what’s called “medium chain fatty acids.” ¬†That is, the fat is small enough that it can be absorbed directly into our body and it can be used as energy, without the need to be further broken down or carried through the lymphatic system in our bodies.

The theory, then, is that coconut is good for us in moderation, just like all fats. ¬†Some studies have even shown a rise in women’s good cholesterol when they used coconut oil over sunflower oil.

That’s good news for us coconut lovers. ūüėČ

When I asked what I should do with the big bag of coconut that’s fallen into my lap, someone mentioned that I should make coconut macaroons.

And.  Well.

That’s how this recipe started out.

But then the melted chocolate didn’t really melt all the way, and after my initial gruff reaction, this kind of left me excited.

Because there were big chunks of chocolate and I thought it might be good to just put the coconut on the outside as a garnish and leave the chocolaty chunks well enough alone.

This left me with two chocolate bites for after dinner tonight…

…a couple more frozen ones for tomorrow night…

…and lots (lots, lots, lots!!) of coconut left to play with¬†for next week’s breakfasts and dinners and everything else in between.

Sigh. ¬†Here’s to coconut and all its possibilities.¬†

Chocolate Truffles–idea from Cinch Diet Plan by Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD

These taste even better chilled/frozen!

I used salted almond butter, but if you have an unsalted variety, just add a pinch of sea salt if desired. ¬†These are so rich that one or two will satisfy. ¬†Save the leftovers for the next night (provided you manage to keep other family members away!) ūüėČ

  • 1/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon + pinch of ginger if desired
  • shredded, unsweetened coconut
  1. Rinse a glass bowl with water and place on table without wiping dry.  Add chocolate chips and place in microwave for 15 seconds.  Stir and return for another 5-10 seconds if needed.
  2. Add oil, almond butter and spices, stirring well until smooth and it begins to form a ball.  Dough will be very soft!
  3. Scoop onto waxed paper, sprinkle with coconut and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.  Store on waxed paper in sealed container, in fridge or freezer.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: When it comes to chocolate, are you more attracted to dark and rich or milky and sweet?  I tend to mostly go for the dark, but occasionally I like a bit of something milky!

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your quiet moment in December.

If you’re feeling kinda busy.

Or.  If.

You can’t remember the last time you just, you know,¬†stopped.

Or.  If.

You could use some time alone (just you.)

Then.

Might I suggest?

That you make yourself a cup of tea.  And then.

Bake a batch of muffins.

And then just sit.

Think.

Listen.

Enjoy your quiet moment in December.

Cranberry Orange Muffins–modified from a recipe in Cooking Light

I reduced the sugar and subbed in whole wheat flour for this recipe with stellar results.  These muffins taste best hot from the oven, but can be frozen and reheated for later use as well.  Enjoy with your favorite cup of tea or a hot cup of coffee.

  • 2 cups¬†whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons¬†baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon¬†salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons¬†grated orange rind
  • 3/4 cup¬†orange juice
  • 1/4 cup¬†canola oil
  • 1¬†large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups¬†coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup¬†chopped walnuts, toasted
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 400¬į.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Set aside 1 tablespoon sugar. Combine flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.
  3. Combine rind, juice, oil, and egg in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved sugar. Bake at 400¬į for 15-17 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Run a knife or spatula around outer edge of each muffin cup. Carefully remove each muffin; place on a wire rack. ¬†Enjoy!

that little last bit of birthday.

My birthday has felt a little like a non-stop celebration for the past few days.

First, there was the indulgence at the Cheesecake Factory.

Followed by hiking Mt. Cannon with the family in New Hampshire.

And then yesterday, this lovely duo came over for an autumn inspired dinner, for that little last bit of birthday.

Oh gosh.

Three days of delicious food, being outdoors and enjoying the people I love most.  What a weekend.

But, apparently, birthdays can be exhausting too. ¬†And this has nothing to do with Sunday’s hike (well, maybe a little.) ¬†Which is why I decided to keep last night’s dinner perfectly simple. ¬†Yes. ¬†Simple, warming, hearty, relaxed and friendly.

I put together a simple cheese plate for some pre-walk munching.

I love pre-dinner walks almost as much as I love morning runs.

The day was chilling down when we arrived back home, and there were bowls of steamy vegetable soup and homemade honey whole wheat bread waiting for everyone (thanks to mom’s well-advanced preparation!)

And hot apple crisp with freshly whipped cream for dessert.

And then, as tradition would have it, Dad bought me a dogfish punkin ale for that very little last bit of birthday celebration.

Thanks to everyone for a fabulous birthday. ¬†I am so blessed. ūüėÄ

Apple Crisp–moderated from the original recipe as seen in Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

This will quickly become your go-to apple crisp. ¬†It’s a perfect way to use up those tart but delicious cortland apples which are absolutely wonderful right now. ¬†I like to eat mine hot with a dollop of fresh cream, but others feel strongly about serving with vanilla ice cream. ¬†You really can’t go wrong with either choice. Enjoy!!

  • 4-6 cups peeled, sliced tart apples (about 6-7 medium apples)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, softened
  1. Heat oven to 375.  Arrange apples in square pan, 8x8x2 inches, which has been coated in cooking spray.  Mix remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle over apples.
  2. Bake until topping is golden brown and apples are tender, 30-40 minutes.  Serve warm with cream or ice cream.
QUESTION: What is your dessert of choice?

Easy As Pie.

It’s probably a good idea to test, tweak and twiddle with recipes before making that final dessert for large family gatherings. ¬†Especially if you’re the main proprietor for making the dessert.

But.  Alas.  Such a good idea never crossed my mind.  And so, with full force and gusto, I decided to experiment.

Thankfully for me (for everyone!) the dessert started with a crumbly graham cracker crust. ¬†No fail. ¬†I think I could make a graham cracker crust with my eyes closed. ¬†Maybe not. ¬†But I do know for sure that I could eat ¬†a hot graham cracker crusts—just like that!—with a dab of whipped cream. ¬†Butter, graham crackers, sugar. ¬†Love.

Anyways, since I didn’t plan on feeding the family graham cracker crust alone, I took the chocolate route. ¬†Another no fail thing in my mind.

This is perhaps the easiest pie you will make all season, as it involves just the 8 minutes of cooking time for the crust!

While the crust sends off its heavenly kitchen aromas, you will be busy (a) blending the rest of the ingredients in a blender and (b) melting chocolate chips in the double boiler.

Resist stirring those chocolate chips until they’re really beginning to melt. ¬†This will prevent any clumping or that unwanted icky (waxy!) coating on top. ¬†Then stir, stir, stir like a mad woman (or man)!!

All the ingredients come together one last time in the blender for a real quick zwuuurp.

Push down the sides as you go and resist licking the spoon.

Or don’t.

I won’t tell.

Then pop that easy peasy pie in the fridge for at least a few hours (preferably overnight,) and top with freshly made whipped cream.

Then, watch your fudgy chocolate pie disappear before your very eyes.

Fudgy Chocolate Pie

Tofu lends the most creamy, smooth texture to this pie, which is densely rich and creamy.  Serve with fresh berries and/or whipped cream to offset this chocolaty richness.  For you die hard chocolate lovers (you know who you are,) drizzle with hot fudge, top with some chopped almonds and a cherry, and serve with a chilled glass of milk.

  • 1 prepared graham cracker crust (combine 15 graham squares, 2 Tbsp. sugar and 4 Tbsp. melted butter….pat down into 9 inch pie pan and bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes…let cool)
  • 1 15-oz soft tofu
  • 2 Tbsp. crushed flax
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 16-oz. bag of semisweet or milk chocolate morsels (I like ghirardelli chocolate for this recipe)
  1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth and creamy.
  2. Meanwhile, blend together tofu, flax and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
  3. Combine chocolate with mixture.  Mix well.
  4. Place in prepared crust and refrigerate overnight.  Enjoy the following day with freshly made whipping cream.

QUESTION: Do you prefer fruity pies? ¬†Chocolate? ¬†Lemon? ¬†I’m a chocolate girl from head to toe. ¬†But I do love a good lemon meringue or key lime pie now and then! ūüėÄ

a couple of cupcake queens.

My sister and I have been talking cupcakes even before they became big and popular and oh-so-in.

I’m talking way back. ¬†Way, way back.

In fact. ¬†I think we were talking cupcakes ever since we learned how to open a tub of Betty Crocker chocolate frosting, smearing the frosting onto my mom’s homemade cupcakes (and onto our fingers…purely accidental, of course!)

I love everything about cupcakes.  Their perfectly sized portion.  Their quirky personality.

The way they can stand alone with such quiet ease and confidence, taking joy in their own unique style.

But it wasn’t until recently that my sister and I came to the conclusion that we wanted¬†more¬†cupcakes in our lives. ¬†As in, at least once a month.

For practice, we said.  Practice so that we can someday be known as a couple of cupcake queens.  Strolling into baby showers, family cookouts, and church gatherings.  With a tray that would make everyone gasp with complete delight.    

And when the gasp happened, we would just smile. ¬†Just a little, you know. ¬†And then we’d respond to the crowds with an,¬†Oh, it’s so incredibly easy. ¬†No, really! ¬†Anyone could do it.¬†

Yes. ¬†We’ve decided that we need lots and lots of practice. ¬† At least once a month.

(BLOGGING BLOOPER!)

It’s tough work baking and decorating and testing that many cupcakes, but somebody’s got to do it!

And so, today, we officially began our (very serious) cupcake excursion.

We decided to start off on a rather simple note. ¬†You know. ¬†So that anyone—as in “us”—really could make it.

Vanilla cupcakes¬†(which we’re still trying to perfect…recipes to come later on!)

Fudgy chocolate frosting (also still perfecting!)

The frosting was delightfully rich and—oh my word!—tasted like¬†fudge! ¬†

We’re not quite there yet. ¬†You know, with the whole¬†walking into the party with just a couple of small smiles on our faces as people adore our cupcakes thing.

But we did love the entire baking experience (bakers at heart!)  

And we noted our mistakes; the things we want to change for the next time around.

And we laughed.  A lot.  

And then, after all was said and done, we licked our plates clean.

I’d call that a success story.

QUESTION: If you could own any sort of restaurant, bakery, or cafe, what would be your signature item(s)?