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Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potatoes

Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potatoes

I greet you once again with a Mexican influenced dish. Being summertime we’re growing cilantro in the garden, and it’s a great pairing with so many flavors. Aka spicy flavorful food…as much as possible.

It’s no secret that black beans and sweet squash are one of my favorite combinations. After I made some black bean butternut squash enchiladas I kept working with the flavors. I think sweet potatoes can be prepared a little plainly sometimes, when they actually have a lot of options for enhancement. Of course, normal twice baked potatoes are delicious with melted cheese, but these are spicy and amazing. We had them alongside steak and in addition to tasting good they boast no fork labor! (Releasing you from the self-mashing prophecy).

Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potatoes

In other news the lemon cake I wrote about a little while ago has been a real crowd pleaser lately and is was just made for a second time by my mom. Once again, no one expects to like the lemon cake, then they love it.

But, be healthy-ish and enjoy these sweet potatoes on a nice evening. Maybe even grill them? And everything else under the sun? I’m not kidding?

Spicy Black Bean Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • ½ can black beans
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • ½ tomato, diced into small pieces
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp red cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp spicy black bean salsa
  • ½ cup Mexican cheese
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Begin by cooking sweet potatoes in a pan in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until tender
  2. Meanwhile in a bowl combine onion, black beans, tomato, salsa and spices. Add most of the cilantro but leave some out for garnish. Let the mixture marinate.
  3. When potatoes are done slice them in half and scoop out insides into a bowl. Mash mixture with oil until smooth with a potato masher or hand mixer.
  4. Add in about ¾ of the black bean mixture and stir. Now is the time to adjust the seasonings to your liking.
  5. Using a spoon place potato mixture back into the potato skins on a cookie sheet. Top the potatoes with the extra bean mixture and a sprinkle of Mexican cheese. Place back in oven for a few minutes to rewarm and melt cheese.
  6. When ready to serve take out and garnish with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Healthy Key Lime Pie

Healthy Key Lime Pie

I always enjoy making healthy alternatives to heart attack-worthy desserts because it’s challenging and sometimes rewarding. But my family members are not always fans. And I have to admit, these desserts can go very wrong, very quickly. I’m looking at you, pumpkin quinoa cookies (oompa-loompa cookies). Sometimes they look and taste…awful.

However, some of these desserts come out fantastic and make me consider giving up ingredients that are delicious, but not doing anything good to my body. This key lime pie was simple to make and actually tasted amazing. Everyone thought it was pretty neat to replace sweet and condensed milk, which usually makes your typical key lime pie, with healthier ingredients. Despite the pie’s low stature (whoops) the taste is on point, and I highly recommend it. Otherwise, I would also recommend buying or saving some coconut cream for a whipped topping, pictured is just conventional whipped cream. Another interesting addition would be to top it with unsweetened toasted coconut!
Additionally, this recipe is grain, dairy and processed sugar free. And it has avocado! So what’s not to love?

Healthy Avocado Coconut Key Lime Pie

Note: For separating the coconut milk I recommend letting it chill and then opening up the can upside down and letting the oil part drain out! It’s a lot easier than blindly poking a spoon in the cream end.

Healthy Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

    Filling
  • 2 cans coconut milk, chilled with the cream separated
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 4 tbs lime juice
  • 2 tps lime zest, more for garnish
  • 2 tbs honey
  • Crust
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 1 cup nuts (used a combination of walnuts and almonds)

Instructions

  1. Pulse nuts and raisins in the food processor until smooth. Feel free to add other ingredients such as coconut or a nut butter.
  2. Press into a springform non-stick tart pan, chill while prepping filling
  3. In a large bowl mix lime juice, avocado, coconut cream, honey and zest. See note for coconut cream tip.
  4. Mix all until creamy and well combined, adding more or less honey and lime juice to taste.
  5. Spoon batter over chilled crust and chill for 3 hours or freeze until firm. Top pie with extra zested lime and or whipped topping of choice. Enjoy!

Raspberry French Macarons

Raspberry French Macarons

Something about these cookies makes people go nuts. Myself included. Maybe it’s because they look as sweet as they taste, or that they’re difficult to make, or maybe it’s that they are French (because let’s face it…they’re good at food).
The idea of making French macarons at home seems a little foreign to the usual baking crowd, and I don’t blame them. These cookies are not easy at all. The main indicator of success is the “foot” of the macaron, or the little ridges on the sides. To this day I’ve made the cookies 3 times and only the most recent time (this batch) had feet. You can imagine my excitement, and you can also imagine how strange my Dad must have felt about me babbling about “feet!”

Raspberry French Macarons
There are a few different ways to make these cookies, but a lot of the tricks are pretty consistent. If you make them you have to be hyper aware during each step ensuring that you sift correctly, don’t overmix, don’t undermix and wait till the cookies are tacky before baking. It’s a lot of little steps and then you have to wait to bake them. I’ll tell you one thing, if you don’t get the feet you may or may not feel like dumping the tray in the trash after all the work. But the good news is that all renditions of this cookie (feet or not) taste pretty delicious.
I followed Beth Le Manach of Entertaining With Beth’s macaron recipe video. She has a great recipe and great tips. However, I also recommend spending some time on Youtube to get a sense of other’s tips and tricks and unique flavors.

(And recipe credit goes to Beth Le Manach)

Raspberry Macarons

Ingredients

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • ¼ cup white sugar (50 g)
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (200 g)
  • 1 cup almond flour (120 g)
  • pinch of salt
  • Raspberry Buttercream
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (60g)
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar (75 g)
  • 1/2 cup (150 g) fresh raspberries, worked through a sieve to extract 3 tbsp of juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Beat egg whites until foamy, then add salt, cream of tartar and white sugar for 8-10 mins.
  2. Eggwhites should be room temp. To create room temp eggs, submerge in warm water for 5 mins.
  3. Whip until they form a peak that stands upright. Add food coloring when peaks are almost stiff.
  4. Sift almond flour, and powdered sugar once or twice. Discard large lumps of almond.
  5. Fold flour/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. Under mix and your macaroons will be lumpy and cracked when the bake with no feet, over mix and your macaroons will be flat and won't have feet, the mark of a well-made macaron. 65-75 turns of your spatula when folding is about the right amount of time.
  6. Transfer batter to a pastry bag. Pipe out 1 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tap the pan hard at least 2-3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of your macaroons from cracking.
  7. Let them sit out for 20-30 mins, or up to an hour if you want. This will allow them time to dry out a bit before hitting the hot oven. They should be "tacky" to the touch, but not stick to your fingertips.
  8. Bake for 20 mins, ensuring that they are down and will not stick to the tray.
  9. For The Buttercream
  10. Whip butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Slowly add sugar.
  11. Place sieve on top of a bowl the same size. Work raspberries through the sieve with a spatula, pushing them through, mashing them around until you extract their juice. You want 3 tablespoons of juice.
  12. Add juice to buttercream, and whip until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag, fitted with a small tip (about ¼ " in diameter) Reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them.
  13. Refrigerate if not serving, bring to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

Raspberry French Macarons

Lemon Cake with Lemon Zest Buttercream

Lemon Cake with Lemon Zest Buttercream

In today’s diary of a ‘kind-of unemployed college student with way too much time on her hands,’ a lemon cake was made. The desire to make this “light summer meal” (in a texture sense, not a caloric one) really just boiled down to me wanting to play with a piping bag. It’s pretty cool what a few Youtube videos can teach you in one afternoon about piping. And it’s really cool to “learn something new” and end up with a delicious dessert.

So you can imagine my pitiful excitement when I found a fresh lemon in the fruit bowl this morning, lemon cake it was! The actual cake is sour cream lemon cake, and it’s wonderfully…dare I say moist? (The most hated word has it’s place, and it’s here.) I made the buttercream with lots of lemon zest and a very small amount of lemon juice and it was a big hit. Super sweet buttercream pairs up really well with a tart flavor. The combination of the frosting and cake is quite perfect with no overkill on the lemon or the sweetness.
So if you can’t find some ridiculous justification to make this cake like I did, I might suggest it for Father’s Day. Or, if you don’t have a dad…summer solstice. Or…the beginning of June! There are secret holidays all around, and holidays call for cake like this. (As does my kind-of unemployed life).

Lemon Sour cream Cake With Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting

 

Lemon Cake With Lemon Zest Butter Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • For the Buttercream
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs half and half
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1½ tbs lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.
  2. Add eggs, oil and lemon juice. Beat until smooth.
  3. Add sour cream and beat until smooth.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees in two 8-inch pans for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. For the Buttercream
  6. Begin by creaming butter until smooth, slowly add in powdered sugar and lemon zest.
  7. Continue to cream adding in half and half and lemon juice adjusting amounts to desired consistency.

 

 

Fudgy Brownies

Fudgy Brownies

No one ever gets mad at you for making brownies. Some “healthy” desserts that I’ve made don’t go over so well with in house. I often cut out processed sugar and sometimes reduce the butter or use a different flour. Some people don’t like this and proceed to describe the taste as something that “starts off good, but ends bad.” So, no, not everyone is into health around here.

But that’s where these brownies come in. Butter, Chocolate and all the goodness. The perfect mix of melt and form. A taste that other desserts fail to capture. They are a chocolate lovers heaven, aside from flourless cake that is.

hand on brownie

I’ve found that in brownies, especially super chocolate ones, that semi-sweet chips work a little better than dark. Though you pretty much have to pry the dark chocolate chip bag from my hands, they don’t melt as well and the overall flavor is a little lost.

I also want to mention that in this recipe I used dark chocolate cocoa powder, which made them extra dark. Obviously, regular works just as well.

Fudgy Brownies

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons (145 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (163 C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. (This helps when removing the baked brownies from the pan, once cooled).
  2. Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat water until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water).
  3. Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks granular, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
  4. Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot.
  5. Stir in vanilla extract, then eggs, one at a time.
  6. Add in flour and mix until combined. Bake 20-25 minutes (and under bake a little for more fudge-like Brownies.)

best fudgy brownies