Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mini Almond Joy Cheesecakes

I've been eyeing this recipe for quite some time now and I finally found the time to make it. You would think that I would be spending these last two snow days grading the bazillion papers I brought home...but NOPE, I'm baking instead. 
I absolutely loooove coconut and chocolate together. It's one of my favorite combinations.

My dad's birthday is this weekend, so I knew he would just love these. My parents are both huge fans of coconut in anything. And in case you didn't know already, my mother is where my sweet tooth comes from! She's the one person I can count on when I want to eat dessert for breakfast. No judgement, she just grabs a spoon and joins right in. :)

These mini Almond Joy Cheesecakes are the perfect version of the candy bar. The cheesecake on it’s own is super creamy, coco-nutty, and delicious, but the crust is where it's at! I love how you can see the little specks of coconut and almonds throughout. It is the most amazing crust and full of flavor. 

I tried to make these "skinny jeans approved" by using coconut oil instead of butter for the crust, reduced fat cream cheese, and I threw in some Greek yogurt for good measure. The result: super smooth, creamy, and amazing! I love the extra boost of flavor from the coconut oil. It has the perfect amount of sweetness from the toasted coconut and chocolate glaze. I also opted for the "mini" version...hey, it's all about portion control!  

If your significant other is a fan of chocolate and coconut, these would be perfect to serve on Valentine’s day! 

Mini Almond Joy Cheesecakes
Recipe adapted from The Curvy Carrot
Makes 6 mini cheesecakes
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon sugar
4 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 (8-ounce) packages reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup non fat, plain Greek yogurt (you could also use non fat, vanilla)
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 tablespoon coconut extract

Chocolate Glaze
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, almonds, and coconut until a crumb mixture. With the machine running, slowly add the melted coconut oil and pulse until it just starts to come together.
Divide the crumb mixture into your mini cheesecake pan then press evenly with the bottom of a glass to create an even crust. Bake crust in the oven for about 5 minutes and let cool.
Reduce oven to 325 degrees.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the coconut extract. Gently fold in the coconut with a spatula until well combined.
Transfer the filling to the cooled crust and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. The top should be slightly puffy and lightly browned. Remove cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely.

Combine the chocolate chips, milk, and vanilla in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave for about 15-20 seconds. Remove and stir until smooth. Pour glaze over the cheesecakes (which are still in the pan) and spread evenly. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and sliced almonds.

Refrigerate the cheesecakes for about 4 hours or overnight. Remove carefully and serve. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Red Velvet Pancakes


So you know what that school! :) It has been a pretty crazy 12 hours around here. Snow and ice covered the roads starting around noon yesterday. So many people have been stuck on the roads for 8+ hours, or even overnight! We are so thankful to be home and safe. 

Even Bailey loved her first time playing in the snow!

I love breakfast. I love pancakes. This morning was the perfect chance to try out these red velvet pancakes. I just love red velvet anything
These pancakes are soft and fluffy, with just the perfect amount of sweetness. I don't normally use a mix when making pancakes, but we had some left over so I didn't want it to go to waste. These are super easy to make and using the baking mix just takes out a few extra steps and ingredients. 

They are absolutely perfect with a dollop of cream cheese (you can't have red velvet without cream cheese!) and a drizzle of warm maple syrup. 

Looks like the perfect surprise for breakfast in bed on Valentine's Day! :)

Red Velvet Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy
2 cups Bisquick mix
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon red food coloring

In a mixing bowl, whisk together baking mix and cocoa powder, set aside. Measure out milk into a liquid measuring cup and whisk in vinegar, allow mixture to rest for 2 minutes. Pour milk mixture into a separate large mixing bowl and add in sugar, eggs, red food coloring, vanilla and melted butter. Whisk mixture until combined. While whisking, slowly add in your dry ingredients and combine. Do not over mix! 

Depending on how big you want your pancakes, pour about a 1/4 - 1/3 cup batter at a time onto hot griddle. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the top surface of the pancakes then flip and cook opposite side until pancake is cooked through.

Serve warm with a dollop of cream cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup. :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

S'mores Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting


These are just a few of my favorite things. 

It starts with a graham cracker crust that's topped with super moist and fudgy chocolate cake. Half way through the baking process you take half of a marshmallow and stick it right in the middle. Continue baking until it's all ooey and gooey and delicious. 

And if that isn't top these babies off with some seriously amazing Nutella butter cream frosting. 

Are you drooling yet??? 

S'mores Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting
Recipe adapted from Pastry Affair

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows, cut in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.

In a large bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until evenly coated. Place a tablespoon sized scoop of the mixture in the bottom of each baking cup. Using a glass press down the graham cracker crumbs until they form a solid crust.

Bake for 5 minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes before filling with cupcake batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and beat for 2-3 minutes on medium speed to mix. Batter will be thin.

Fill baking cups 2/3 of the way full and bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove pan from oven and place half of a marshmallow into the center of each cupcake. Return to oven and bake for another 7-8 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs. Cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

Nutella Buttercream Frosting
Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy


1/2 (1 stick) cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup Nutella
2  tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 - 4 tsp heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 5 - 6 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Add in Nutella and cocoa powder and whip 2 minutes longer. Mix in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined, then add in cream and whip on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes longer. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

I've had a bunch of overripe bananas sitting on our kitchen counter for the past couple of days and I've been searching for a way to use them up so they don't go to waste. 

I'm kind of over banana bread at the moment. Don't get me wrong, I have made some pretty delicious ones in the past, but I was wanting something a little bit different this morning. I'm a huge fan of the peanut butter and banana combo and this totally hit the spot. 

This oatmeal is super easy to make and it literally only takes about 10 minutes! It's the perfect breakfast for those of us that don't have a lot of time in the morning. 

I topped mine with some toasted pecans, but brown sugar, maple syrup, or even some more peanut butter would be yummy! 

Similar recipes: Peanut Butter Banana Bread, Peanut Butter Pancakes, Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal
1 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup non fat Greek yogurt (I used Chobani's Vanilla non fat yogurt)
1 ripe mashed banana
1-2 tbsp light brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
optional toppings: chopped pecans, {more} peanut butter, cinnamon, maple syrup, brown sugar

In a medium saucepan, bring milk and water just to a boil. 
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in Greek yogurt, oats, mashed banana, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and peanut butter. 
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. 
Cover and let it sit for about 3 minutes. 
Serve warm with chopped pecans or other toppings. 
Serves 2 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cookie Butter Granola

I've been a huge fan of Trader Joe's cookie butter for quite awhile now, but since we don't have one close to our house I rarely can get my hands on it. Until recently, that is. We went last weekend and I made sure to grab a jar (or two) of this absolutely amazing stuff! 

It’s thick and creamy like peanut butter but with the spicy flavor of gingerbread, and just a slight crunch from the ground cookies. Seriously daaaangerous! My husband and I have gone through an entire jar in a matter of days. We love just scooping it out of the jar with a good.
I knew I wanted to use it in a recipe before it all disappeared, and this is by far one of the best things I have made. I wanted to try to and make it somewhat healthy, so I loaded this baby up with some goodies. The quinoa, almonds, and sunflower seeds gives it great crunch and it has a nutty and super cookie buttery flavor. 

It's the perfect little snack to munch on, or you could put it over some Greek yogurt. Either way, it's pretty darn delicious. 

Looks like I can have cookie butter as a snack, for breakfast, and for dessert...that's my kind of granola! Enjoy! :)

Cookie Butter Granola
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 whole almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cookie butter
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper,

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, sliced and whole almonds, sunflower seeds, and quinoa. Stir until combined. Add cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and salt. Stir again and set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl add coconut oil, brown sugar, cookie butter, and honey. Melt for about 25-30 seconds. Whisk together until combined. Pour over dry ingredients and mix until everything is coated. 

Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, making sure to stir the granola every 10-15 minutes to prevent burning. Allow granola to cool for 20 minutes before removing from baking sheet. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.