All Fruit Popsicles

Watermelon PopsicleIt is summer time. Days of 100 F degree weather are the norm here. The nice thing about summer is the abundance of fruit available. And I tend to buy more than we can eat before they go bad. Here is a great way to use some of your extra fruit up and a healthy alternative to store bought corn syrup and whatever else popsicles.  Plus, who doesn’t like a nice cold popsicle on a hot day? If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use plastic cups and popsicles sticks with cling wrap to hold them in place. Feel free to switch up your ingredients. I just used what I had on hand, but there are tons of different combinations out there. This recipe yields 6.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups watermelon chunks
  • 2 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 nectarine, sliced
  • 1 kiwi, sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberriesWatermelon Popsicle 2

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a blender, puree the watermelon chunks.
  2.  Watermelon Popsicle 1
  3. Fill 1/4 of your molds with watermelon puree.
  4. Add equal amounts of each fruit into the molds. Watermelon Popsicle 3
  5. Pour the rest of the watermelon puree to the fill line on each of the molds. Watermelon Popsicle 4
  6. Freeze your filled molds for 4 to 6 hours; overnight is best. Watermelon Popsicle

Black Forest Bundt Cake

IMG_6752I finally bought myself a bundt cake pan. Being a bundt pan novice, I didn’t realize I needed to spray the pan with baking spray oil so heavily.  My lesson was learned after 10% of the top of my first bundt cake stayed in the pan. Good thing I had enough ingredients to try again.  Otherwise, the bundt cake pan would have been put in the far back of a cupboard never to be seen again.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

FILLING INGREDIENT:

  • 1/2 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling (use remainder to serve on the side)

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sprinkles of your choice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Prepare your bundt pan by coating it heavily with baking spray or butter and flour.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, almond extract,  vanilla extract and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute.
  4. Sift into the bowl the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt.
  5. Mix together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin.
  6. Top the batter with the cherry pie filling. Black Forest Bundt pan 2
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.IMG_6749 (2)
  9. Whip the heavy cream in a cold, chilled bowl until it starts to thicken.
  10. Then beat in confectioners sugar, almond and vanilla extract until the mixture begins to hold its shape.
  11. Top the bundt cake with the whipped topping and add sprinkles. If you have maraschino cherries add those too. I didn’t have enough to decorate my cake though.
  12. Serve the extra whipped topping and cherry pie filling on the side. Your guests will be pleased! Black Forest Bundt 2

Olive Oil Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries

olive-oil-oatmeal-cookieI know what you are thinking. “What?! Joann is not fattening us up with butter in her cookies like always?” No worries. I made these more out of curiosity rather than trying to be more health conscious. And actually, these were not bad at all. They turned out sweet, savory and moist all in one.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries or raisins)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Meanwhile line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Mix together olive oil, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs in a large mixing bowl until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, cloves and nutmeg.
  4. Add flour mixture, rolled oats and dried cranberries to olive oil mixture.
  5. Drop in tablespoon balls on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  7. Let cool at least 3 minutes before transferring to baking rack to completely cool.
  8. This recipe yielded 32 cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Mini Cheesecakes

mini-cheesecake-1Since my father passed away earlier in December, this Christmas was bittersweet. I think my cooking and baking has reflected my sadness. So these mini blueberry cheesecakes I made weren’t given the usual attention and detail that I normally like to give my recipes that I post. So I apologize if the pictures aren’t as appealing as the mini cheesecakes really are.

 CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 graham cracker sheets
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick of melted butter

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

To make the crust:

  1. Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they are crumbs.
  2. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse until well combined.
  3. Press 1-2 tablespoons into the bottom of your cupcake liners.mini-cheesecake-2

 

To make the filling:

  1. Using an electric hand mixer, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth
  2. Add heavy whipping cream, vanilla and almond extract, and lemon juice. Mix on high for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Pour filling over crusts to the rim of each cupcake liner.
  3. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours. I made mine the night before, so it was refrigerated for 12 hours.mini-cheesecake-3

To make the topping:

  1. Combine the blueberries, sugar, butter, cornstarch, vanilla extract and lemon juice into a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium high heat for about five minutes.  Stir frequently until the blueberries breakdown and the sauce thickens.
  3. Let cool down and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Are you ready to serve? Let’s go:

  1. Carefully remove the mini cheesecakes from the cupcake liners.
  2. Arrange on a platter and spoon the blueberry sauce over the top of each mini cheesecake.mini-cheesecake-4

 

This recipe yields 12 mini cheesecakes. Double the recipe if you have a larger crowd to feed. You can substitute any berry for the topping. I just like blueberries the most.

Holiday Explosion Cookies

xmas-explosion-cookiesOkay, technically these are my Holiday Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies. But they are amped up to be even more festive and more chocolatey. How can you resist three types of chocolate chips, sweet cranberries, holiday M&M’s and holiday sprinkles?! I know I can’t. Make a batch of these for your favorite little elves and don’t forget about Santa.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup red and green holiday M&M’s
  • 1/2 cup red and green holiday sprinkles

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare 2 large baking sheets with non stick baking mats or use parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Using a mixer, combine the butter, sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 batches, stirring until just combined.
  7. Add the dried cranberries/cherries, the 3 types of chocolate chips, M&M’s and holiday sprinkles to the mixture.
  8. Mix manually with a wooden spoon until all are combined.xmas-explosion-cookies-2
  9. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
  10. Bake until light golden brown and just set, 8-10 minutes.
  11. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: These cookies can be baked ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. This recipe yields about 24 -30 cookies. 

  1. xmas-explosion-cookies-1

Lemon Blueberry Crumble Bars

lemon-blueberry-crumble-plated1I love quick recipes. And even better, a quick baked goods recipe. Correction, a quick FROM SCRATCH recipe. These are so tasty you are going to want to make a second batch soon. I know I am!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Lightly coat an 8×8 baking pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl or food processor, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add egg yolk, vanilla extract, lemon zest and cold butter. Using your fingers work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs. (Or pulse in food processor until crumbs form.)
  4. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch. Stir in lemon juice. Add blueberries and gently mix to combine.
  5. Spread 2/3 of the batter into the prepared baking pan. lemon-blueberry-crumble-1
  6. Spread blueberry mixture evenly over the bottom layer. lemon-blueberry-crumble-2
  7. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 of the batter and then sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over top batter layer. lemon-blueberry-crumble-3
  8. Bake until lightly browned, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool before cutting into bars.

lemon-blueberry-crumble-plated

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread Mini Loaves

chocolate-chip-zucchini-bread-2Believe it or not, this is actually a skinny recipe. And the best part is that it doesn’t taste like a skinny recipe. This zucchini bread tastes like a rich, decadent chocolate cake. But since it is made with Greek yogurt and grated zucchini, it is actually not that bad for you. Can’t complain about that.  Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. I made these into 3 mini loaves. You can make using one regular size loaf pan instead.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (6 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt, excess liquid drained
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium sized ones)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips tossed in 1/2 tablespoon of flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease mini loaf pans with baking spray. (Or full size loaf pan)
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Put grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out excess liquid.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until blended. About 1-2 minutes. Add yogurt and mix until combined.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time until combined with wet ingredients.
  6. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes in loaf pan, then remove from pan and finish cooling on baking rack before cutting and serving.

chocolate-chip-zucchini-bread-1