Friday, June 28, 2013

Layers of Lemony Love Dessert and Crustless Cheesecake with Raspberry Pie Filling from Lucky Leaf

Layers of Lemony Love from Lucky Leaf 6-23-13

Lucky Leaf is at it again.  They sent me more of their pie fillings to try.  Lucky leaf, lucky me! Check it out on Twitter, too at #LuckyLeafLuckyMe.   I have enjoyed using their pie fillings.  Because of health reasons, I am no longer eating any processed food, also gluten free and no refined sugars.  My question is, CAN I DO THIS?  Yes, I can.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t make things my family and friends will enjoy and that’s just what I did with the yummy things Lucky Leaf sent me.

I feel a little bad, they sent me some fun jars to make individual desserts in jars.  But we were heading out of town the next morning that I used the fillings and it was easier to make regular sized treats for the company we had over.  I will for sure use the jars once we get home.  There is still some peach pie filling to use!

Lucky Leaf Goodies

I often have a giveaway for my readers from Lucky Leaf and wasn’t able to do that this time since we are out of town, but I’m sure I’ll hear from them again! ;)

My family and our company (which we also family) that had these two desserts I made using the pie filling said they were great.   If you’re looking for super simple desserts, head over to the Lucky Leaf website and check out all their recipes.  I got the recipe for the Layers of Lemony Love Dessert on their site.  It was probably a favorite of the family we had over and since we were going out of town,  I sent them home with the leftovers.  They were happy.

Layers of Lemony Love Dessert, from Lucky Leaf

1  1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1  1/2 sticks)

1   8 oz. package cream cheese (I used the 1/3 less fat kind), softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1  21 oz. can Lucky Leaf Premium Lemon Pie Filling

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1  8 oz. container frozen whipped dessert topping (like Cool Whip), thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease bottom of 9x13 inch baking pan.  Mix flour and butter (I used a food processor until it was all combined, like coarse meal.)  Spread evenly in pan and press it down slightly.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.  Let crust cool.

Beat cream cheese in mixer until smooth, add powdered sugar, Lucky Leaf lemon pie filling, vanilla and half the whipped topping.  Pour and spread over the cooled crust.  Spread the remaining whipped topping over pie filling mixture.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Layers of Lemony Love Dessert from Lucky Leaf

For those who didn’t want the lemon dessert, I made a cheesecake to go with the raspberry pie filling.  After deciding to make the cheesecake, I realized I didn’t have anything to make a crust, so I made a crustless cheesecake.  Some family members were happy to have a lighter, healthier option.  One of the things I love about Lucky Leaf Premium Pie Fillings is that they have no high fructose corn syrup.

I got the recipe for the crustless cheesecake from Rachael’s blog, Simply Fresh Cooking.  The only thing I did different from her recipe is that I didn’t use organic ingredients and I didn’t put the sour cream topping on the cheesecake.  There was vanilla in the sour cream topping, but I added it to the cheesecake instead. Check it out.  Everyone said it was a great cheesecake!  I served it with the Lucky Leaf Red Raspberry Premium Pie Filling and some fresh raspberries.

Crustless Cheesecake with Lucky Leaf Red Raspberry Pie Filling

The raspberry pie filling is full of raspberries!  When I have been in a pinch to quickly find a last minute dessert, these pie fillings are great.  Thank you again to Lucky Leaf for the fun package!

Lucky Leaf Red Raspberry Pie Filling with crustless cheesecake

Check out all the other goodness from Lucky Leaf on Twitter and Pinterest.  #LuckyLeafLuckyMe

Friday, June 21, 2013

Apricot Date Coconut Logs—Paleo, Vegan, No Sugar Added—And Some News

Apricot Date Coconut Logs

These were so easy to make and are a super healthy, but perfect sweet treat.  Have you ever gotten them from a bulk bin at the store?  I have tried them a few times and they were good.  Decided there was no reason not to make them at home.  Four simple ingredients is all it takes.  There is no added sugar, they are vegan and Paleo.  Don’t be thinking with all those issues they must not be good.  They are delicious!

Apricot Date Coconut Logs, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 cup pitted dates

1/3 cup dried apricots

1/4 cup almond flour (almond meal)

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

In a food processor, pulse together the dates and apricots until they are all small bits.  Add the almond flour and pulse until all combined.  Roll the mixture into 12 tablespoon-size logs (you could roll them into balls, too).  Roll them each in the coconut and store in an airtight container.

Apricot Date Coconut Logs

Told you they were easy.  I’ve also had ones from those bulk bins that are just apricot and rolled in coconut.  Two ingredients.  So good.

I’ve told all my Facebook friends and followers.  Not sure if all my blog readers know yet, but I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis).  Long story.  What it means for me is that I will be taking some different turns in the foods I eat.  Right now I plan to go gluten free and no refined sugars.  Never fear—I’ll still be baking up yummy treats of all kinds for my family and friends.  But from time to time I’ll have things that I think are great, healthier treats to share here, too. 

I’ve known about the MS for the last year and a half, but the last few months it kind of bit me in the rear.  I was ignoring it before, but am now on the road to kicking it in the rear big time and kicking it out the door.  It won’t rule my life.  I’m in charge. 

I tried going completely Paleo for a week.  No grains, no dairy, no sugar, and no legumes, which includes peanut butter!  That wasn’t so easy.  I asked my doctor about those kinds of diets.  She advised me to just eat a healthy, balanced diet and not go crazy with too many things.  So I stopped being completely Paleo crazed and decided there are benefits to trying gluten free, I plan to use mostly healthy, whole grains and it certainly can’t hurt to give up refined sugar.  I’ll have plenty of things up my sleeve with healthy coconut oil, agave, raw honey, coconut sugar and some other great gluten free flours.  Stay tuned.  I’m excited to see what is out there and what else I can come up with. 

For fun, while I was not eating peanut butter (and I actually still haven’t--going on more than two weeks now) I have been making my own nut butters.  Stay tuned for the sunflower seed butter I made and the delicious home roasted and homemade almond butter.  Next up, I’ll be trying pecan butter, which hopefully is fantastic as pecans are my favorite nut.  A little sneak peek, here’s what I had for lunch yesterday.

Lunch 6-20-13That’s the almond butter.  I could just spoon it right into my mouth.  But I love it on celery and carrots.  I made my most favorite breakfast smoothie with some sunflower seed butter, too.  I’ll be sharing that soon as well, it has a secret ingredient that is so good!  You’ll have to wait and come back for that.

We’ll be going on a vacation next week, so I’ll probably not be able to blog until once July comes around!  Happy Summer! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Easy Criss Cross Peanut Butter Cookies

Criss Cross Peanut Butter Cookies

If you’re looking for the perfect, good old fashioned criss cross peanut butter cookies, this is it.  I first made these cookies back in 2008 not long after I started blogging.  That old original post is here.  I decided to post them again with updated photos and to bring attention back to them.  I believe everyone needs recipes for all their favorite cookies, like my favorite chocolate chip cookies.  These would fit the category of favorite peanut butter cookies.

I don’t take any credit for these cookies as I got the original recipe from Anna at Cookie Madness.  Long ago she raved they were her favorite peanut butter cookies, which is why I made them back then.  After I started blogging, Anna’s blog was probably the first one I discovered and loved.  Still to this day, I check her blog daily to see what she is up to in the kitchen.  Not only that, I’ve been lucky enough to meet her and spend the weekend in San Francisco at BlogHer Food 2009 with her and I chat with her frequently via email and Facebook.  She is great and is a great resource and authority to turn to for any of your baking questions or for whatever you might be looking for.  That link for her blog takes you right to the recipe for these cookies. 

I’ve really only made some small changes, here’s how I made them.

Criss Cross Peanut Butter Cookies

Easy Criss Cross Peanut Butter Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Anna at Cookie Madness

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1  1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup semi sweet or milk chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and sugars and cream together until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add the peanut butter and combine until mixed.  Then add the egg and vanilla and beat until well mixed.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda and whisk together.  Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips, too), if using.

Scoop dough onto baking sheets about two tablespoonsful each, spaced about two inches apart.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheets for a couple minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 2 dozen or more if you make them smaller, then only bake about 10 minutes.

Criss Cross Peanut Butter Cookies 6-15-13

Fresh from the oven they are a little puffy, but flatten to a perfect thickness as they cool.  With some of the cookies I stuffed the insides with chocolate chips and didn’t put the criss cross on them.

Chocolate Filled Peanut Butter Cookies I sent this entire batch of cookies over to Kevin’s niece who watched the boys for us last week.  Try these perfect peanut butter cookies!


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Bars

Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Bars

After making these Raspberry Streusel Dessert Bars back in April and then making them at least 3-4 times since, I kept thinking about chocolate (surprise!).  After making some homemade strawberry jam a few weeks ago, it came to me that these bars would be so good made with chocolate and strawberry jam—like a chocolate covered strawberry in dessert bar form.  So I set out to see what I could come up with.  And I love it when something turns out great on the first try!

I just made these yesterday after taking a Facebook friends poll over which kind of chocolate people prefer on chocolate covered strawberries.  Dark, semi-sweet or milk?  Then I started having some say their favorite is white chocolate on strawberries—okay, I’ll have to try another bar, but for now, for these bars, I went with semi-sweet.  They are sure easy to make and certainly taste like chocolate and strawberries.  I call it a win!

Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Bars, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 cups (240 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (40 grams) natural cocoa powder

2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup strawberry jam (homemade is best!)

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons strawberry jam

3 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 inch baking pan with non-stick foil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.  In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt.  Pulse to combine.  Add the vanilla and pieces of butter.  Pulse until it is all combined and resembles coarse, wet sand.  Put about 2/3 of the mixture into the baking pan and spread evenly, pressing down slightly.  Spread the strawberry jam over the bottom crust.  Then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the jam.  Finish with sprinkling the remaining crumb mixture over the top and press down slightly.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit until cool.

Remove the bars from the pan using the overhanging edges of the foil.  Cut into 16 bars.

Make the ganache.  Put the chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl.  Put the jam and cream in a glass measuring cup or bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds, just as it begins to bubble up (watch that it doesn’t bubble over, could do in 15 second intervals if you’re worried).  Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate chips and let sit for a minute.  Stir the now melted chocolate and strawberry cream together until smooth.  Let the ganache sit for 20-30 minutes so it thickens slightly.  Put the ganache into a zip top plastic bag, then snip the corner off and drizzle over the bars.  Let sit until somewhat hardened on the bars.

Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Bars

These would be good and pretty with a fresh slice of strawberry on the tops of each, but I didn’t have any fresh strawberries at the time. 

Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Bars

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Coconut Lime Cranberry Pecan Bars—Secret Recipe Club

Coconut Lime Cranberry Pecan Bars 5

These Coconut Lime Cranberry Pecan Bars that I made for the Secret Recipe Club were a perfect pick to make.  I made them for the monthly book group I’m in and also gave some to one of the boys’ bus drivers to thank her for the year of rides home from school.  They really are good!  The blog I got them from was my assignment for June, Anna’s blog, bcmom's kitchen.  Anna’s blog was a new one for me and I really enjoyed looking through her recipes.  Yum!

Anna got this recipe from her local newspaper’s food section that was posted in a cookie contest.  I made a few little changes to the recipe.  The filling has some cranberry juice in it and while I was at the store to get some, I saw some cranberry lime juice and thought that sounded really good.  So I decided to use that and lime zest instead of orange zest that was also in the recipe.  That cranberry lime juice was really good, it was from Ocean Spray.   Other than that and some slight changes to the icing recipe, I followed Anna’s recipe.

Coconut Lime Cranberry Pecan Bars

Just for the heck of it, I only iced about half the bars.  They are good both ways.  I put some lime zest in the icing, so there is a little extra kick in that.

Coconut Lime Cranberry Pecan Bars 6

Coconut Lime Cranberry Pecan Bars, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Anna at bcmom's kitchen


1  1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries


2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cranberry lime juice (or cranberry juice)

1 teaspoon lime zest (about half a large lime or all of a small lime)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cup chopped dried cranberries

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut


1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tablespoon cranberry lime juice

1/2 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with non stick foil (or don’t, you don’t have to).  For the crust, put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.   Add the cold butter and pulse until well combined.  Also combine the pecans and cranberries.  Press the mixture onto the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling by whisking together the eggs, sugar, cranberry-lime juice, lime zest and vanilla.  Stir in the pecans, cranberries and coconut.  Pour evenly over hot crust (spreading it carefully).  Return to oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack.

Make icing by combining all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisking together until smooth.  Remove bars from pan by lifting the foil edges.  Set on a cutting board and slide the foil out from under the bars (that’s what is so great about non-stick foil and you don’t have to cut bars in the pan).  Cut bars into desired sizes.  Drizzle icing over as many bars as you’d like.  (You can drizzle the icing before cutting the bars if you’d like, but I like having icing dripping down the sides of each one.)  Let icing dry for 20-30 minutes to harden if you want to stack the bars for storage or serving.

Coconut Lime Cranberry Pecan Bars

Being a chocolate gal, these are still great as is, but I also can’t quite thinking that they’d be good with some mini chocolate chips in the filling or possible drizzled with melted white chocolate.  Ooh, yum.  Great blog, Anna.  Thanks!