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Pumpkin Apple Soup

Pumpkin Apple Soup

Hmmm. Sweet Spree, what was that? Some kind of candy shop? I can’t seem to remember because the chocolate peanut butter bar recipe has been lingering a little too long on the RSS feed.
After a short hiatus, I’m happy to be back posting recipes again! (And maybe more.)
Now that the Christmas cookie and cheeseball part of winter has come to an end, (although those that I follow on Pinterest seem to think January is all about gingerbread truffles,) I can focus on the realities of winter food. Soup, tea and heavy cream. If you haven’t consumed at least one of those things during the past week I may suggest that you are doing winter all wrong.
This particular recipe actually leans a little bit towards fall, but it is still perfectly warming and delicious. This soup is the perfect thing to use up an extra can of pumpkin hanging around.
First I shun Christmas treats after New Years, then I present a pumpkin apple soup. Yes, I am sane. When I made this meal I served it with tiny baguette grilled cheeses with apple and gouda. And I suggest you do the same, because consuming delicious food should be at the top of your resolution list. Happy New Year!

Pumpkin Apple Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, chopped fine
  • 1 large White Onion
  • 5 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1 can Coconut Cream
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 tbs Curry
  • 1 tbs Allspice
  • 1 tps salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tps butter
  • Small bunch of sage

Instructions

  1. In a large pot cook onions and oil over medium heat until translucent.
  2. In another saucepan sauté pumpkin over medium heat stirring quickly to caramelize, place mixture in with onions
  3. In the same saucepan, sauté apples in maple syrup and butter, when soft, transfer to large pot
  4. Add vegetable broth, sage leaves, spices and salt. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. While mixture is hot, use a hand blender or transfer to a blender until pureed smooth.
  6. Add in chilled coconut cream to taste, and adjust spices if desired. Serve Hot.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Somehow I always have a strange and intense craving for Buckeyes during the summer. I hop on a plane and camp out by their stadium with all my gear on just hoping to catch a satisfying glimpse of one of the players. Unfortunately I usually just end up with another jersey.
Okay, as you may have guessed from the photos the Buckeyes I’m actually referring to are the chocolate and peanut butter holiday treats that I can never get out of my head.
These mini desserts are best described as an amped up, homemade Reese Peanut butter cup rolled into a ball. The name actually does derive from their resemblance to the Ohio Buckeye tree, so I guess Ohio is not totally irrelevant here. And yes, while they are normally served in the colder months, I find them all too appropriate for summer. This is because you can serve them chilled, and that my friends, is pretty amazing.
So you might be asking yourself, why is she talking about Buckeyes when all I see are some bars above? Given my klutzy tray and dipping skills, the balls don’t always work out the best. And to be honest, I always end up dropping a few. This time around I decided to use similar ingredients but transform them into bars. Insert chocolate peanut butter bars. In addition to being a lot easier (no ball rolling), I upped the basic chocolate section to a ganache. This works better with the consistency of the peanut butter layer, and now this dessert is just way too easy to make at any time. That’s your warning, okay? But whether you make these bars, or buckeyes, or are simply too lazy and go buy a Reese’s cup (boo) I think most can agree the chocolate and peanut butter will always be magical together.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine vanilla, peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar with a mixer until homogenous and creamy.
  2. Place mixture in the bottom of a parchment lined pan (8x8 works well for this recipe). Chill.
  3. Meanwhile in a saucepan bring heavy cream just to a boil. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl, stirring rapidly. When chocolate has melted, cover and place the ganache in the fridge to chill.
  4. When the ganache is not completely hard but begins to thicken pour over the peanut butter layer. If it is too thick it will not spread and if it is too hot it will melt the peanut butter. The temperature can be adjusted by either leaving it out or chilling it.
  5. Place the bars in the fridge or freezer until chocolate is firm. When mixture is chilled remove the bars by the sides of the parchment and cut into small squares with a sharp knife. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

I love a good chocolate cake. And when I say “good” I don’t mean the dry lump you sometimes get at birthday parties or the supermarket because that lump has no place in my heart.
And in my time as a baker I’ve tried out a good amount of recipes. I’ve frequented sour cream chocolate cakes, and cakes with ingredients that are basically equivalent to a brownie, and of course a few million boxes of good ole’ Betty. (Ugh, Betty).
But something my mom and I have both found is tha this recipe, yes this one, is pretty much always fantastic. Something about either the boiling water or just the recipe itself has always yielded a rich and super moist chocolate cake.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Fresh Cream and Cherry Sauce
However, you might not believe that this recipe is in fact on the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder box. It doesn’t even have melted chocolate in it, and still retains a wonderful flavor. This is especially good considering an innocent bag of chocolate chips has a shelf life of about 1 day in my household. (But I can’t say I’m not to blame?)
This time around I really put this recipe to the test. I used whole-wheat flour and honey instead of white sugar. To be honest I did not expect anything close to the normal result, yet, there I was, impressed by the back of the cocoa powder container again.
We also had a bunch of cherries in the house so I figured I’d make a cherry sauce, which is a lot easier to make than it sounds. With a little whipped cream and the sauce, this was definitely well received. I could eat some right. Now. Want to make it for me?
Cake recipe adapted from Hershey’s

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Cherry Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted or sliced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  4. For Cherry Sauce
  5. In a small saucepan heat water and honey over medium high heat, stirring. Stir until mixture is homogenous and a syrup/combination has formed.
  6. Add in Cherries and vanilla and adjust the heat to low. Cover on a low boil for about 20-30 min or until your ideal syrup has formed. Serve warm or cool and reheat.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Fresh Cream and Cherry Sauce

Falafel

Falafel

How very cultured of me to make falafel, right? Right? Please confirm my deep white Connecticut roots and tell me how cultured I am.
But to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I had falafel. Yes, I smell it cooking pretty often where I work, but I wasn’t even sure of the ingredients before seeing this recipe. She also has a fantastic and simple tahini sauce recipe on the same page. So yes, Just a Taste totally inspired me to make falafel.
And I’ll tell, you it was totally worth it. Admittedly I didn’t have a huge knowledge of this food, but I kind of figured out that it’s a little difficult to mess up. I mean how much can you really mess up something you’re about to fry in a skillet?
Falafel Tahini Sauce Tabbouleh Hands
These fried patties are so delicious, and the whole meal was really perfected by some baba ghanoush and and tabbouleh from a local Middle Eastern style market. Those sides with falafel and the tahini sauce in a pita=#blessed. The entire meal has a lot of flavors that you don’t get to experience very often.

So to you, reader. Try your hand at falafel and wow your family and friends. You can even use this meal for #meatlessmonday! Or um, #friedfriday because both those “days” are only healthy…if you make them healthy.

Recipe adapted from Just a Taste

Falafel

Ingredients

  • 2 cups roughly chopped white onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (1 can)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil, for sauteing
  • Pita bread, for serving

Instructions

  1. Mince garlic in food processor, adding roughly chopped onion, set aside mixture.
  2. In food processor combine chickpeas, herbs, spices and lemon juice. Pulse until just combined.
  3. Add in the onion mixture to food processor and add baking soda. Slowly add flour until a sticky dough is formed. It just has to be sticky enough to not turn into a pancake when fried!
  4. Cover and refrigerate the falafel mixture for 1 hour
  5. When Mixture is ready heat a large skillet on medium heat generously doused with canola oil. Use an ice-cream scoop to create equal balls of dough and place on the hot skillet to fry. I covered the skillet to evenly cook the insides but you don't need to.
  6. Dab falafel with a paper towel if they have excess oil on them and serve warm with tahini sauce, pita and tabbouleh!

Falafel Tahini Sauce Tabbouleh Plate

Vegetable Pasta with Goat Cheese

Vegetable Pasta with Goat Cheese

Goat cheese is a beautiful thing. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around people that don’t like it, even though there seem to be plenty. While I could literally eat it plain, (and sometimes do) it also goes well with #somanyflavors. One of my favorites being balsamic. In spite of the craziness that the past few days have been, this is an easy summer meal and not too bad for you either. Of course it could benefit from a little more green and in my case a little less cheese, but can’t everything? Let’s just go with the assumption that there was a side salad. Definitely.

In other news, it’s finally okay to use to term “summer” without some snark muttering “well actually…summer solstice is…” Please, don’t be that person. It’s the same person that cruely reminds you to count the current day when mentioning the days till Christmas, or the person that includes weekends in their school-end countdown. Just stop. Let me have my fun. But, to please all the haters now it’s finally summer, so let’s enjoy it. Make some goat cheese veggie pasta.

 Also, for this recipe I used the pre-crumbled goat cheese which is really easy and perfect for pasta. I used a lot. It was delicious.

Vegetable Pasta with Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 box whole wheat pasta
  • 2 zucchini sqush
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1 tb better than broth, or substitute
  • 2 tbs honey mustard
  • 1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Begin by chopping squash and eggplant to be about the same size so they cook at the same rate. Meanwhile boil water for pasta, adding oil and salt and cook the pasta as directed.
  2. After vegetables have been cut place in a large skillet with a couple tablespoons of oil on medium heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sautee until almost transperant and soft. Set aside.
  3. In the same skillet combine balsamic, broth, oil, honey mustard and water. Heat on low until bubbling and all ingredients have been dissolved. Toss in the garlic and continue to heat lightly till cooked.
  4. After the pasta has been drained combine vegetables, sauce and pasta in the skillet. Stir and make sure that the sauce coats all.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl. At this point you can mix in some of the goat cheese and it will melt with the pasta.
  6. When ready to serve sprinkle the rest of the goat cheese over the top or mix it in, serve warm. Enjoy!