Thursday, December 31, 2015

True No Bake Cookies—The Easiest and Yummiest Cookies Ever

True No Bake Cookies

If you’re looking for the world’s most simple, yummiest treat (you could totally whip these up in minutes and serve them for New Year’s Eve tonight), this is the cookie!  There was recently a very small feud (not really a feud, just an observance) between a fellow food blogger and I about these classic no bake cookies.  This recipe I’ve made and posted today are THE original cookies, THE recipe I grew up making.  There are no other True No Bake Cookies. ; )  That said, Blaise from Blaise the Baker posted a step-by-step tutorial about these cookies yesterday on his Facebook page.  You can get his (not original, hehe) recipe on the link to his blog.  After I saw his post, it dawned on me that every time I have seen these cookies, for years—they have always had peanut butter in them.  I’m here to tell you, even as a chocolate and peanut butter lover, that these should not be made with peanut butter.  It’s wrong. 

Okay, okay, it’s probably not wrong.  But THE True No Bake Cookies I grew up with do not have peanut butter, so it has always seemed wrong to me.  After chatting with Blaise, I looked through my good old recipe box for the recipe.  And when I say old, I mean it—I have in that box recipes from when I took a cooking class in 7th grade, so we’re talking 34+ years ago.  Whew!  Anyway, there I found THE recipe!

And here I share THE recipe with YOU!  Peanut butter not necessary.  If you need the chocolate/peanut butter combo fix, eat a Reese’s. 

True No Bake Cookies

True No Bake Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup 2% milk

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup nuts (I always remember walnuts, peanuts are not an option, haha), optional

1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, optional

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, combine together the sugar, butter, milk, cocoa and salt.  When it comes to a good rolling boil, boil for exactly one minute.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla.  Stir well.  Add the oats, coconut, and nuts and stir together to combine.  Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto waxed paper and let cool.  They don’t even take 30 minutes to cool and set up.  Serve the plateful and watch them disappear.  Makes 18-20.  (The nuts and coconut are optional.  I left out the nuts as my kids don’t love them.)

True No Bake Cookies

You do not need to make these all perfectly uniform.  They shouldn’t be.  That is what makes them “true”.

How do you make no bake cookies?  Wondering if I have other fellow non-peanut butter no bake cookie people out there.  I’m sure Blaise and all the others out there who put peanut butter in theirs still have a great cookie.  Just having a little fun.

Happy End of 2015!  And here’s to a wonderful New Year to you all!  Make it a great one!  I plan to do so!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Spicy Mixed Nuts (Refined Sugar Free, Paleo)

Paleo Spiced Mixed Nuts

Looking for a munchy snack for New Year’s Eve?  These spiced mixed nuts are great!  They aren’t just perfect for New Year’s or any other holiday, I’d make them year round.  And they are pretty healthy—there are no refined sugars in them—just good Grade B maple syrup, and not even that much.  A little egg white to add to the protein and some great spices make these perfectly crunchy and delicious.  I’ve loved having them here while others around me are eating so many other treats that I no longer eat. 

I used pecans, almonds, and just a handful of cashews and hazelnuts along with some raw sunflower seeds.  I threw a little orange zest in the mixture and it’s good.  I wish I would have added a little more.  The kick from some cayenne is just enough, but if you’d like it even spicier, add a little more.  I was afraid and didn’t want to make them too spicy since I’m mainly the only one eating them around here.  Love the sweet combo of cinnamon, maple and orange.  It goes well with the cayenne, chili and cumin powder to make a great sweet and spicy flavor.

These made for some nice holidays gifts I also handed out.

Spiced Mixed Nuts

Spicy Mixed Nuts (Paleo, Refined Sugar Free), by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

5 cups mixed nuts (I used a mixture of mostly pecans and almonds, with some cashews, hazelnuts and some sunflower seeds)

2 large egg whites

¼ cup Grade B maple syrup

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon Ancho chili powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne powder

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Put all the nuts in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer for 2 minutes, until frothy. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the nuts) and fold it all together. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Or portion them out into cute gift bags and ties.

Spiced Mixed Nuts 3

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Salted Caramel Pecan Turtles Fudge

Salted Caramel Pecan Turtles Fudge

Do you like fudge?  Do you like the classic turtles candy, you know, chocolate, caramel and pecans?  I decided to combine them together and came up with this super easy, tasty fudge!  Decided to add a little salt on the top and think it’s a great addition if you like salted caramel. 

Do you have all your Christmas baking done?  I don’t.  But I never really do.  I always have things I run out of time to make or that I want to try for the first time.  I’ve made plenty of my “signature” Chocolate Chip Cookies, also made the same recipe and threw in a bunch of chopped up Andes Chocolate Mints.  Everyone has loved these, I probably haven’t made enough of them. 

Andes Mint Chocolate Chip CookiesAnyway, I whipped up the easy fudge that is just made with melted chocolate chips and a can of sweetened condensed milk, then decided to add the caramel and pecans.  A friend of mine gives us a nice square of real, homemade, cooked-like-grandma-used-to-make fudge every Christmas.  Even since I’ve been off gluten and refined sugar, I usually take a little taste.  It is divine!  My fudge is delicious, but much easier, and so I suppose I’m lazy.  Really I think it’s just because I’d rather bake cookies than spend time cooking fudge over the stove.

Salted Caramel Pecan Turtles Fudge 12-20-15  Salted Caramel Pecan Turtles Fudge, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

12 ounce package semi sweet chocolate chips

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

6 ounces caramel, chopped (or unwrapped caramel squares)

2 tablepoons heavy cream

3/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted, rough chopped

Flaked sea salt, optional*

Line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with non stick foil, leaving the edges overhanging a bit, spray it lightly with cooking spray.  Set aside.  In a glass microwave safe bowl, combine the caramel and cream.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each.  It should only take 1-2 minutes.  Let the caramel cool to room temperature.  In a medium sized saucepan over medium low heat, combine the chocolate chips and condensed milk.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Add the vanilla and salt and stir until combined.  Add the pecans and stir well.  Take a few spoonfuls of the caramel and carefully stir it into the fudge, without combining it completely.  The fudge thickens quickly, so spread it evenly in the pan.  Pour or spoon the remaining caramel over the top, then swirl it in and around the caramel with a knife.  *Lightly sprinkle salt over the top.  Feel free to leave off the salt if you’d like.  I was out of course, flaked salt and just used a little sprinkle of sea salt.  Refrigerate the fudge for at least an hour.  Remove from the pan using the foil edges and peel the foil off the back.  Cut the fudge on a cutting board into squares. 

Salted Caramel Pecan Turtles Fudge 3

I think it has just the right amount of caramel and salt and again, tasted a little for quality control.  Christmas is almost here!  Are you ready?



Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Testing and more testing.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jazzed Up Fruity Granola, Gluten Free Option, with Crunchies Freeze Dried Fruit

It is no secret that I love granola.  One thing I love, especially this time of year when treats and ooey-gooey things abound, is to have granola on hand as a perfect snack to grab when you’ve had enough of the other stuff.  In my case, things like this granola ARE my treat.  There is no shortage of granola recipes on my blog—everything from Apple Cinnamon Granola, Banana Split Granola, Coconut Lime Granola, to Dark Chocolate Raspberry Granola and many more!

I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to receive a nice package from Crunchies!  Have you seen their freeze dried fruit or tried them?  I have loved freeze dried fruit for a long time and these Crunchies have sure made a great snack.  I love that they have no added anything—it’s just the fruit—freeze dried!  I’ve seen them in the stores and will definitely now be getting them more often.  My favorites are raspberries, strawberry/banana, pineapple and cinnamon apple.  Which ones would/do you like? 

I decided that I needed to use some of these in granola.  They are perfect.  I mean, look at this plain ol’ boring granola I made.

I love just munching on granola.  Just as equally, I like it as a bowl of cereal with almond milk or on some Greek yogurt drizzled with a little raw honey—but it definitely benefits from the Crunchies freeze dried fruit.  Here I also recently made some chocolate granola (always gluten free for me, and refined sugar free), but the chocolate granola on some Greek yogurt with Crunchies freeze dried raspberries—heavenly!  You should follow Crunchies on Facebook to stay up with their latest and greatest.

It was also perfect giving some away as a birthday gift wrapped up in nice cellophane bag.  Forgot to photograph that one.
Jazzed Up Fruity Granola, Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!
4 1/2 cups gluten free oats (you can use regular old fashioned oats if you don’t need it to be gluten free)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup hemp seeds (optional, but they sure pack a nutritional punch)
1/2 unsweetened coconut*
1/2 cup raw walnuts*
1/2 cup raw pecans*
1/4 cup raw, sliced almonds*
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup organic coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup raw honey
6 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Any Crunchies freeze dried fruit you’d like, this one has raspberries, strawberries, bananas and pineapple

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, flax, hemp, coconut and all the nuts and the salt. (*You can use any nuts you’d like for a total of 1-1/2 to 2 cups of nuts, I like sunflower seeds, too.)  Mix together until all combined.  In a microwave safe glass bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, honey and coconut oil.  Microwave for about 30 seconds just until it’s more runny.  Add the vanilla and whisk together.  Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and using a spatula, mix together until everything is moistened.  Spread the mixture evenly onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 22-25 minutes until all golden.   Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack—do not stir it around.  Once it is cooled, break the granola into pieces.  Letting it sit until cool makes for bigger chunks.  If you stirred it right out of the oven, it’s still good, but has smaller bits of granola.  Store it in an airtight container.  Add the fruit when serving the granola.  If you added it to the granola for storing, it loses its crunchiness.

Want more delicious recipes and info from Crunchies?  Follow them here on Pinterest and Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks Crunchies for all the samples of your delicious freeze dried fruit.  I literally had to hide these from my oldest son.  He would have taken them all and eaten them before I even got to use them and eat them myself!  I was nice enough and let him have the grapes and blueberries, just to ward him off my stash.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sweet Potato Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake (Gluten Free, Grain Free)

Sweet Potato Chocolate Marble Cake, Gluten Free, Grain Free
This was my birthday cake I made a couple weeks ago, but it would be perfect for your Thanksgiving desserts or Christmas, or any holiday or any occasion or just because you want cake—it’s practically healthy!  Get this—the cake is not only gluten free, but it’s grain free and it’s made with much healthier coconut sugar and raw honey for the sweetener.  Hello, it also has a vegetable in it.  The sweet potato acts like pumpkin.  I love the flavor.  With sweet spices added, sweet potato and and chocolate go together perfectly!  If you’re trying to find healthier desserts or have diet restrictions, this pretty bundt cake would be just right for you. 
It was certainly just right for my birthday, which just happens to fall on National Bundt Day, November 15.  I’ve enjoyed making a bundt cake for my birthday for a number of years now, ever since Mary at The Food Librarian started in with her love of bundts.  She has hundreds of bundt cakes posted on her blog.  She would even do 30 days of bundts leading up to my birthday National Bundt Day, and post a bundt a day before that.  She did that for a couple years.  She has some great round ups of all the cakes she’s made as well as some round ups of the bundts everyone makes to join in the fun and send her their links. 
Sweet Potato Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake (Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free)
I can’t wait to make this cake again.  I recently bought two sweet potatoes that were huge—one was over three pounds!  I baked it and used it to make a puree.  It was well enough for this cake and a lot more.  Some of it even went in the freezer since I went out of town and couldn’t eat it all up before it would have spoiled.  I still have the second big one and some smaller ones to use up.  I thought the big one wouldn’t be good (over grown) or as sweet or something, but it was great and perfect for this cake!
Sweet Potato Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!
4 ounces good chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips)
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup almond meal/flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup (168 grams) raw honey
1/2 cup (224 grams) coconut oil
1 cup (250 grams) sweet potato puree (Make sure it’s cool if you’re baking it right before using it. I baked mine the night before I made the cake, then cooled it and stored it in the refrigerator, then pureed it right before using.)
4 large eggs (I actually used 5 sm-med. farm fresh eggs, for a total of 202 grams out of shell)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
Ganache Drizzle:
2 1/2 ounces chocolate (I used mini chocolate chips)
4 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread coconut oil evenly over the surface of the bundt pan.  (You’ll want at least a 6 cup bundt pan, but bigger will work, too, it’s not a super high cake that totally fills the pan.)  You can also dust it with cocoa powder or almond flour or coconut flour, but I didn’t, just oil.  (The cake stuck in one little place and usually doesn’t at all when I add some kind of flour after oiling the pan.)  Set aside.  Melt the 4 ounces of chocolate in a medium sized microwave-safe bowl.  Stir after 20-30 second intervals until all melted and smooth and let cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the arrowroot, coconut flour, almond flour, baking soda, salt and all the spices.  Whisk together, set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the coconut sugar, honey and coconut oil.  Whisk (or use mixer) until well combined.  Add the sweet potato puree and beat until combined.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix together until well combined.  Remove about 1/3 of the cake batter from the bowl into another pan and add the 4 ounces of melted chocolate to it, then combine well. 
Working in spoonsful or scoops at a time, put the batter in the pan, first the sweet potato cake batter, then in opposite places around the bundt the chocolate batter in spoonsful.  Continue in layers of both cake batters until you’ve used it all.  Take a butter knife and swirl the batter to make the marble effect (not too much swirling or it will not look marbled).  Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.  Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Turn the cake over and let it sit for a couple minutes, then tap the sides and bottom of the pan to release the cake.  It should come out nicely!  Heat the cream in a microwave safe bowl until slightly bubbly (careful it doesn’t boil over, it can come to that stage pretty quickly, especially since it’s such a small amount.)  Pour the heated cream over the 2 1/2 ounces of chocolate, let sit for a minute.  Then slowly stir it together until the chocolate is all melted and you have a nice smooth ganache.  You can do this while the cake is cooling as it sets up a bit after it’s all melted.  Drizzle the ganache over the cake (I put it in a plastic zip top bag and snipped the corner off to drizzle it over the cake, you can also do it by the spoonsful.) 
Grain Free Sweet Potato Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake
As I wrote down the recipe, it seemed a little involved, but I have found if you get everything out and in place (Mise en place, I’m all for it!), it’s not bad at all.  Prep everything ahead of time, bake your potato, melt the chocolate, etc.—it’s really not too bad.  And fun.  And worth it for this cake!  Not only does it taste great—it looks great, too.  I think it’s a real show stopper.  If you had this on your dessert table and didn’t tell anyone it was grain free, I don’t think anyone would even know.  Only Kevin and my son, Scott, even tasted the cake.  But after that I hid the rest for the next couple days so they didn’t eat more, because it was all for me on National Bundt Day—MY BIRTHDAY!  I thought it tasted better the next day and the next.  Maybe because I’m kind of cake-deprived, but try it and tell me what you think!
I’m home for Thanksgiving in Idaho with my parents while my awesome husband is home with the four boys.  He’s amazing and I am so blessed and grateful for all the wonderful blessings I have been given.  He even spent the last two days repainting our bedroom—5 1/2 years in our home and we’ve never really liked the paint in our room.  Love it now!  Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Granola, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan

Apple Cinnamon Granola (Gluten Free) 10-20-15
I love granola.  I’m so happy that granola can easily be made gluten free—and refined sugar free.  It makes for a great snack.  Even when you just need to grab a handful and go.  But it also makes for a great breakfast.  I love it in a bowl with almond milk and some more fruit as well as with a little Greek yogurt, more fresh fruit and a drizzle of raw honey.  I almost always have some made and ready to eat at any time.  As I type this, I’m almost out of this yummy Apple Cinnamon Granola and need to make more.  Some Gluten Free Oats were on sale recently, so I have plenty in stock.  I love making all kinds and flavors of granola.  What is your favorite?
Apple Cinnamon Granola, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!
4 cups gluten free old fashioned oats***
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened, natural applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup dried apple pieces, tossed in a little cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, flax meal, sunflower seeds, pecans, salt and cinnamon.  Stir together.  In a medium sized microwaveable bowl, combine the coconut oil and coconut sugar.  Microwave for 30 seconds.  Whisk to combine.  Add the applesauce and vanilla and whisk together.  Stir the wet ingredients into the big bowl of dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened.  Pour the mixture out onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet.  Spread evenly.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Let granola sit untouched on baking sheet on wire rack until cooled, this helps the pieces stick together in bigger clumps if you like it chunky.  Stirring right after if comes out of the oven makes for separated pieces (which is still good!).  Once pieces are broken up spread the dried apple pieces around and toss evenly.  Store in an airtight container.  ***Don’t want to or need to worry about gluten free, just use regular oats, this works both ways!
Cinnamon Apple Granola (Gluten Free)
Hmm, what kind should I make next?  Any ideas on flavors yet unseen?  I need more granola and I need it right now.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie Bars—Grain Free (Paleo), Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

Grain Free Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie Bars

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie Bars

I opened a can of pumpkin last week.  It’s already the second or third large can I’ve opened over the last month or so.  I like putting a scoop of it in my morning healthy smoothie, since the smoothie is chocolate based, the pumpkin along with added pumpkin pie spices is a delicious combination.  It’s been a while since I’ve actually made myself a treat and these turned out perfect.  For the bars to be a recipe I just came up with and only made twice, I’m so happy.  They are one of my favorite things I’ve made since going gluten free and refined sugar free.  These also just happen to be vegan.  I am in love.  I’m making more almond butter (roasted almonds just came out of the oven) as I write this so I can make some more.

I don’t think anyone who doesn’t eat this healthier way would have a clue that these are grain free and vegan brownies with no sugar (just a little real maple syrup).  They are perfectly fudgy with just the right amount of sweetness.  As I’m planning to make them again today, I’m going to add some pecans or walnuts because I love brownies with nuts.  These are so easy to make.

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie Bars, Grain Free (Paleo), Vegan, Refined Sugar Free, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

3/4 cup almond butter (I make it homemade and grind my own toasted almonds into butter)

3/4 cup 100% pumpkin puree

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons coconut flour

2 tablespoons raw cacao (or cocoa powder)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more if you really want that fall spices flavor, 1 teaspoon was barely detectable)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (optional)

1/2 cup chopped, toasted nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with non stick foil (or regular foil, I just prefer the non stick), lightly greased with coconut oil.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the almond butter and pumpkin and whisk together until well combined.  Add the maple syrup and vanilla and whisk well.  In a small bowl, combine the coconut flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking soda and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.  Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, possibly with just some moist crumbs.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely.  Remove from pan using foil edges, cut on a cutting board into desired sized pieces.  I prefer to store it in the refrigerator.  They seem to be even fudgier cold from the refrigerator.

Grain Free Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie Bars

I’m so excited that as I finish up this post, the new brownie bars with added walnuts just came out of the oven.  It smells divine in here.  As blogging goes, it is just me, or does one post seem to take all day sometimes?  I was doing many things while trying to get back to finishing this post, besides just making more of these brownies.  Oh well, I suppose, such is life!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball

This is the cheese ball that changed everything at our house.  Haha, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s now the only cheese ball that is allowed to be made (and eaten) here and it’s been a couple years now.  All other cheese balls pale in comparison and according to Kevin just do not have enough flavor.  Does anyone else find it interesting that his favorite dessert is cheesecake, but he actually really doesn’t like cream cheese in any other form—except this loaded cheese ball.  It is loaded with his favorites, like BACON and jalapeno.  I think he’d even be happy if I’d make it even spicier, but then it would be too spicy for the boys.

I first saw a version of this cheese ball at Tracey's Culinary Adventures back in 2012.  Tracey’s blog is awesome and full of great recipes and photos.  She hasn’t been blogging much the last year or so (with good reason, she has the cutest little one year old girl keeping her busy), but you can still get recipes on her blog.  Check it out!  In my opinion, her recipe is spot on.  In Kevin’s opinion, he made me kick it up with a little more heat and I must say, it’s still not too spicy to eat if you don’t like things too hot.

The first photo is from one I made for a big Smith family dinner last Christmas.  I made two of them and they were gone in a flash.  Over this past weekend, I took the boys to a pumpkin patch and the farm has a big farmers’ market store that I didn’t know existed, including grass fed beef.  I’ll be back there, especially since their sign said they are open year round.  While waiting in line to pay for our pumpkins , we were standing next to some corn on the cob and other fresh veggies.  The boys found some cool looking jalapenos, so we bought some.  Check out the fun shapes.

Farmer's Market jalapenos

We loved the one in the middle that looks like a half moon with a face.  After bringing these home from the market/pumpkin patch, it was decided by everyone that I HAD to make this cheese ball.  I almost couldn’t whip it up fast enough for everyone to dig in.  Kevin even had to run to the store for crackers—everyone’s favorite are Wheat Thins and we were out.  Quickly made the bacon while the cream cheese came more to room temperature.  Chopped up some jalapenos and pecans and got everything else out and ready.  I’ve always made this in a bowl, stirring by hand, in the past, but this time decided to do it in the food processor.  We liked how much more everything incorporated into the cream cheese, but left plenty of the jalapenos, bacon and pecans for the outside.  We love that the whole cheese ball is covered in the good stuff.  You’re the lucky one if you get to be the one who eats the few remaining pieces of bacon and jalapeno that didn’t make it onto the cheese ball.  That was Parker this time. 

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball Here’s the cheese ball I just made the other night.  The family didn’t care how nicely I made it look, they just wanted to hurry and get to eat it, so it’s just a quick one.  But delicious still!

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature

6-8 slices bacon (you can’t go wrong with too much bacon), I use uncured bacon with no preservatives

1/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (to taste)

1/4-1/2 teaspoon onion powder (to taste)

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (to taste)

1/8-1/4 ground cayenne pepper (to taste)

1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

juice of half a lime

a couple shakes of hot sauce (Tabasco), optional

2 jalapenos (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped and divided

Crackers of your choice

Cook the bacon in a large skillet or a glass plate in the microwave (I used the plate and it took two batches).  Ideally, I cook bacon in the oven (375 degrees F) on a roasting rack so the grease drips down into the pan.  Takes about 20-30 minutes.  Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.  I prefer toasting nuts in the oven (350 degrees F, 5-7 minutes), or you can put them on a plate in a single layer and use the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring half way through. 

Put the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, Worchestershire, lime juice, half the bacon and jalapeno and the optional hot sauce in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times, scrape sides of bowl and pulse a few more times until all combined.  Using a spatula, scrape the mixture into a ball on a plate that has the remaining bacon, jalapenos and the chopped pecans on it (mixed evenly).  Roll the cheese ball in the mixture until it is evenly coated on all sides.  While doing this, form it into a ball with your hands.  You hands will get a little messy, but it’s all for a good cause!  You can wet your hands slightly if you’d like, but I don’t usually need to do so.  Refrigerate for an hour to firm up the ball, or serve immediately if people don’t want to wait anymore!

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball and Crackers

Everyone else likes Wheat Thins with this cheese ball, but since I eat gluten free my favorite are these yummy chips I get at Costco called Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips.  Love these—they are perfect for chips and salsa, nachos, this cheese ball, etc., and I like that they are pretty sturdy and will hold up to thicker things.  You’ll never made a plain ol’ cheese ball with just scallions in it again. (Ew.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chocolate PB2 Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free)

Chocolate PB2 Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sorry my blogging has been so intermittent.  I wish I had all the time in the world to share things here, but it just hasn’t been possible as of late.  That said, I don’t plan on just disappearing, me and my little ol’ blog.  So stick around!  You might recall not too long ago I shared some PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookies I made with PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter.  They were delicious.  In fact, Bell Plantation (the company that makes PB2) shared them on their Facebook page and they went crazy!  I knew they made a chocolate version of PB2 and had to get some and try it in cookies, but I couldn’t just stop there……

My friend, Paige, posted about David Lebovitz’ Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola.  It was calling my name and I had to make some.   I made it with changes using raw honey instead of maple syrup and coconut sugar in place of the brown sugar, I also used gluten free oats and Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips.  It was a great granola!  (I need to make more!)  I swear I wrote down my changes somewhere so I could share my version of the recipe, but I CANNOT FIND IT!  sigh  It’s okay, David’s recipe is pretty simple and I really only made the few changes I mentioned, so check it out if you’re looking for a quick treat or breakfast.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola (Gluten Free)

I decided to use the Chocolate PB2 and make more cookies.  To bump up the delicious peanut butter and chocolate combination, I added some of the granola to the cookies, as well as more peanuts and lots of chocolate chips.  Score!  These were so good!  If you’ve been putting off trying the peanut butter powders, do not hesitate any longer.  It’s good stuff!

Chocolate PB2 Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free) 2

 Chocolate PB2 Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup organic brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup raw honey

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola (or granola of your choice)

4 tablespoons Chocolate PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter

2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

1 cup gluten free flour blend

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (or chocolate chips of your choice)

1/4 cup roasted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil and sugars.  Whisk together well.  Add the egg and vanilla and combine.  In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients (granola, PB2, cacao, flour, soda, baking powder and salt) and mix them together.  Add them to the creamed mixture (You can use a mixer, but it mixes just fine with a whisk!).  Stir with a wooden spoon until all combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and peanuts.  Drop by tablespoonsful (or using a cookie scoop) onto the parchment lined baking sheets spaced about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let sit on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool. 

Chocolate PB2 Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free) 3 Come on—they look delicious, huh!  I need to make some more.  I’ll try to be better at posting on my blog.  I miss it, I really do. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Gluten Free Peach Crisp

Gluten Free Peach Crisp

Wait!  Summer, Hold On!  Don’t go yet!  There’s still time.  Peaches are still available and you need to make this Gluten Free Peach Crisp.  It’s so good.  I’ve made it twice in the last couple weeks.  Do you realize how simple it is to turn a regular crisp into a gluten free one? 

I used this apricot crisp recipe and just made a few simple changes using gluten free oats and flour and some adjustments on the sweeteners.  Please don’t let summer fade away without making a fruit crisp.  The peaches are perfect right now!

Gluten Free Peach Crisp

Gluten Free Peach Crisp, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

For the peaches:

6-7 cups peaches (6-10 peaches depending on size), peeled, pitted and sliced**

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

2-3 tablespoons raw honey (to taste)

1 tablespoon gluten free flour blend

For the crisp topping:

1 cup gluten free old fashioned oats

1/4 cup gluten free flour blend

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup organic brown sugar (or 1/2 cup coconut sugar or organic brown sugar, you decide)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch or two of freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

**Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cut a criss cross slit (about an inch each way) in the bottom of each peach, not too deep, just enough to cut through the skin of the peach.  Set 3-4-5 (however many fit in your pot) peaches in the boiling water for 1 minute.  Remove them to a dry cloth using a slotted spoon.  While the rest are boiling quickly, start peeling the peaches.  Using the cut end the skin peels off with ease with the four slit corners.  Every now and then a peach will be stubborn, but you can still get it done.  If you have never tried the slit, try it.  You’ll never peel a peach another way again.  Best tip ever from my friend, Paige at For Love of the Table.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly grease a glass dish (mine is a 2.8 liters Pyrex dish) with coconut oil.  Peel, pit and slice the peaches.  Put them in a large bowl.  Add the honey, almond extract and gluten free flour and stir carefully to coat all with the flour.  Spread the peaches in the prepared pan and set aside.  In a medium sized bowl, add the oats, gluten free flour, coconut sugar, brown sugar, spices and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Add the pieces of butter and mix together with your hands, pressing the butter throughout the dry ingredients until well mixed and all the mixture is moist.  Stir in the almonds.  Sprinkle the oat mixture evenly over the peaches.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until peaches are bubbly and topping is golden and crispy.  Let dish set on a wire rack until mostly cooled.  This is great served still slightly warm topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Peeling peaches

 The skin on the peaches just peels off so easily after making a slit in the bottom and boiling them for a minute.  These peaches pictured here were HUGE.  I got almost 2 cups of sliced peaches for each one!

Sliced peaches

You can leave the peaches in just sliced wedges, but I like cutting them wedges into cubed pieces. 

I made a simple dairy free vanilla ice cream with coconut milk, eggs, vanilla paste, raw honey and a pinch of salt, heated and cooked until thickened, then chilled, then churned and frozen.  Perfect for topping a crisp!

Gluten Free Peach Crisp 3

Don’t let summer slip away without making a peach crisp!  It’s so easy to make gluten free and cut the refined sugars.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake—Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake

I have some zucchini (who doesn’t?!).  I decided to make something, and after making my “famous” Grandma Tiny's Zucchini Cookies so I could give them to some friends, I felt that I needed to make something I could eat, too.  Taking notes from the recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Brownies I made two years ago, I changed up a few things figuring these would be a little less brownie-like and have more of a cakey texture—and they do.  They are good.  I challenge anyone to test them out and see if they’d have a clue these are gluten free, have no refined sugar and are made with coconut oil instead of butter.  I even think they wouldn’t know they have zucchini, too.  I’m happy with my new snack! 

Part of the reason you can’t even tell they have zucchini is because when I make baked goods with zucchini, I prefer to use the finer side of the grater.

grated zucchini

See the difference?  If you set the grated zucchini on paper towel while getting the rest of the ingredients ready, a lot of the liquid is drained from the shreds which helps you not end up with a wet mess when you’re baking with them.  When I made the cookies earlier, I forgot to use the smaller grate, so I put the zucchini (along with the brown sugar and oil I’d already mixed in with it) in the food processor and chopped it a little finer by just pulsing it a few times.  I think it worked perfectly!

Grandma Tiny's Zucchini Cookies

I think it’s okay and necessary for the zucchini to be visible in zucchini cookies, same with zucchini bread, but for some reason not in chocolate things like brownies and cake.  Just don’t tell people who don’t want a vegetable in their baked goods and they wouldn’t even know.  ; )

Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake—Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup raw honey

1/4 cup organic coconut oil

1/2 cup raw cacao (or cocoa powder)

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup almond flour

3/4 cup gluten free flour blend (with xanthan gum)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup finely shredded, drained on paper towel for 20 minutes, packed zucchini

1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (or chips of your choice)

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with nonstick foil with edges creased down over the sides and grease lightly with coconut oil.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, honey, and coconut oil.  Add the cocoa powder and stir together until well combined.  Whisk in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the almond flour, gluten free flour blend, baking powder and salt.  Stir with a spatula until just combined.  Stir in the zucchini.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake for 23-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just moist crumbs.  Let sit on wire rack until cool.  Remove from pan using the foil edges.  Set on a cutting board and cut into desired sized pieces.  Snack away.

Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake

Mmmm!  Do you see the zucchini in there?  No.  You can’t tell it’s there, but veggies in cake equals healthy! ; )

Thursday, August 20, 2015

PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free, Make with Coconut Oil)

PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free)

Yay for cookies!  Sometimes I really miss cookies.  I’ve made some in the past (that follow my new requirements of gluten free, refined sugar free, healthier, etc.), but I don’t get to make and enjoy them as often as I used to and that was sure a fun part of my life.  Yes, I still make cookies for others and I love doing that, but it’s not the same as trying a new recipe, or coming up with something that I can actually eat, too.  So when that happens, it’s a big YAY for me. 

I like that I am eating healthier (for my health’s sake) these days, but I just miss grabbing something, trying things I haven’t had before and not worrying about it.  We all have things like that in our lives that come up and we just have to deal with it.  But blah, blah, this is getting boring—I made cookies!  And they are so good!  They are still a bit of a splurge for me, but I don’t feel guilty about having 1 or 2 now and then and it’s nice to know I have a little treat when I need one, okay—WANT one. ; )

PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free)

I cannot and will not take all credit for these.  Jane at The Heritage Cook, a great gluten free pal of mine, whose blog I love visiting and finding great recipes, recently posted some cookies she made using PB2, which is a powdered peanut butter (healthier with all the oil removed, less fat, but still pretty darn tasty).  I had just bought some for the first time last week for our trip to Chicago as I wanted to be able to put peanut butter in my chocolate Shakeology shakes I make for breakfast every morning while we were there.  Normally at home, I just put in a tablespoon of peanut butter, but the PB2 seemed like a great thing to try while travelling.  It was perfect with my shakes and making them in the handheld blender I bought just for the trip with a little added banana I’d get from the hotel continental breakfast.  The link to Jane’s blog above has her recipe!

PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookies 2These cookies are perfectly chewy and have a great salty peanutty taste with just a few bites of chocolate here and there.  

We got back from our trip and a few days later Jane posted cookies she’d made with PB2.  Well, I took that as a big sign that I needed to make cookies with it, too.  I totally followed her recipe, but did make some changes.  Besides using a gluten free flour blend (which Jane did also), I used coconut oil instead of butter and some honey instead of some of the sugar.  I also added more PB2 than her recipe.  Definitely credit and props to her and I can’t wait to make these again.  “Oh, Honey, I’ll need some MORE PB2 soon!”  Maybe I’ll try the chocolate version of PB2 next.  It does have a little added sugar in it, but for two tablespoons of the powder (1 serving) it only has 1 gram of sugar, so it isn’t much and I’m calling it good enough for me.

PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Jane at The Heritage Cook

1 cup gluten free flour blend

3 tablespoons PB2 powdered peanut butter

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup organic coconut oil

1/2 cup organic brown cane sugar (not tightly packed)

1/4 cup raw honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large backyard fresh egg

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

1/3-1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (or any chocolate of your choice)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the gluten free flour, PB2, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Whisk together.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil, brown sugar, and honey and stir together until well combined.  It takes a little stirring by hand until the coconut oil is all combined, but don’t give up, it happens.  Add the vanilla and egg and whisk until well combined.  Stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Stir in the peanuts and chocolate chips.  Using a cookie scoop, cookie dough into cookies spaced about 2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 9-10 minutes.  Remove from oven let sit on baking sheet for a few minutes.  Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  I used a medium sized (regular sized) cookie/ice cream scoop and got 15 cookies.

PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookie You know you want a bite!  Or your own cookie! ; )


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta—Tuesdays With Dorie—Baking Chez Moi

Mango Panna Cotta

I missed the last TWD, which was an apricot raspberry tart.  I bought a big container of organic apricots at Costco that I was planning on using, but my kids all like apricots so much (so do I) in their perfect, fresh form, that they all got eaten super fast before I was able to make the tart.  The tart sounds like something I’d love, so it was probably a good thing that I wasn’t tempted to eat it.

Today’s recipe for the Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta was super simple so I decided there was no excuse to get it made.  I used organic cane sugar so I could taste it.  I normally don’t eat things with milk and cream much anymore but decided this was an okay excuse because I really wanted to try it.

Mango Panna Cotta 

Panna Cotta, as I described it to my kids, it just a gelatin (Jell-o) made with milk and cream. It’s pretty low in sugar, too.  With this one, a mango puree is put in the bottom of each cup.  I would not be against just going with more puree (half the cup!) and half panna cotta.  It would even be good with the mango mixed in with the milk/cream mixture. 

This is how I served it here after nice photos--

Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta 2

You can never have too much fresh fruit!  I followed Dorie’s recipe exactly, even using lime juice and a teaspoon of honey in the puree.  I used vanilla extract as I didn’t have a vailla bean.  I’m tell you, super easy for a nice dessert.  This recipe made four servings but would also be a cinch to double or triple it for a crowd.  You want the recipe, don’t you?  I’ve told you before—get Dorie’s book, Baking Chez Moi.  Loving it!  A lot more panna cotta to behold with the group, check it out here

This would be good with any fruit and surprise, surprise, I’m thinking there’s got to be a way it would be really good with chocolate, too.  Ooh, raspberry puree, raspberries on top and chocolate shavings or a drizzle of melted chocolate.  That would be my ideal panna cotta.  What would be your favorite?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

White Popcorn Lime Kettle Corn

Lime Kettle Corn with White Popcorn and coconut oil

Looks like regular ol’ popcorn, I know.  But it’s different and better and……yummy!  Sometimes I want/need a little treat.  I’m over the wish for decadent desserts, cakes, cookies, brownies, ice cream, etc., well, mostly over it.  Every now and then I want something like that.  But I just get over it.  Healthy treats, like the ones I occasionally make with dates and such do the trick.  Every now and then, I want something crunchy and salty. 

One of my favorite things is making popcorn.  NEVER, and I’m serious, never eat microwave popcorn—all that butter “flavoring” stuff in it is NOT good for you.  Bad, bad.  But before I knew that a few years ago, I found Orville Redenbacher’s Lime and Salt microwave popcorn and I loved it.  Nowadays, I make my own with my Orville Redenbacher Presto Stirring Popper (no affiliate link, just love it).  Photo courtesy of 


I have come to love white popcorn.  It’s just better.  Try it if you haven’t.  You can find it in most stores now.  Even better, but harder to find is organic white popcorn.  The kernels are smaller and it just has a more tender crunch.  You can use any popping corn you like.  The popper is great, you add a little oil to it and I ALWAYS use organic coconut oil.  I’ll never go back to anything else.  I love the slight coconut flavor and that it is a healthier option.  Plug in the popper after adding some oil, let it heat for just a minute.  Then add the popping corn and put the big, ventilated, plastic lid over it.  You can watch the corn start browning a bit, hear the sizzle and then you see the corn start popping.  Listen for the pops to almost stop, then unplug it and turn the whole thing upside down and the lid becomes the bowl (until you move it to a bowl that isn’t ventilated with holes to add all the yumminess to it).

I most often make the popcorn with just the coconut oil and some salt.  It doesn’t need butter!  Sometimes I add lime zest.  That lime and salt really is a great combination on popcorn.  Try it!  Just zest a little lime right onto the freshly popped and salted corn and stir it together.  Mmmm!

Today though, I felt like a little sweet and salty, so while the corn was popping (it’s fast), I mixed together a little salt, organic cane sugar and lime zest so that as soon as the popcorn was done, I could sprinkle it on the fresh, hot corn and stir it all together.  You can drizzle it with a little more coconut oil as soon as it is done popping, but it isn’t necessary. 

White Popcorn Lime Kettle Corn, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/4 cup organic coconut oil, 1 tablespoon or more to drizzle over popcorn if desired

1/2 cup white popping corn kernels

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons organic cane sugar

zest of 1 lime

Put the 1/4 cup of coconut oil in the popper (*I use the Orville Redenbacher Presto Stirring Popper).  Plug it in and let the wire arm start moving around and the oil heat up for a minute.  Add the popping corn and put the lid on the popper.  Combine the salt, sugar and lime zest in a small bowl and stir it together.  Within minutes the popcorn will pop the corn.  Unplug it and carefully (with hot pads) turn it upside down so all the popped corn is in the lid.  Put the popcorn in a large bowl, drizzle with extra coconut oil if desired. Sprinkle the salt/sugar/lime mixture evenly over the popcorn a little at a time and stir it to combine.  Serve.  When you get to the bottom of the bowl, you’ll see lots of the lime mixture left, but you can still taste it throughout.  (I tried a little coconut oil drizzle on some and stirred the lime mixture around and it stuck to the popcorn more, but I was fine with the taste when it had less, so do it to taste.) *You can pop popping corn with any popper you’d like, including an air popper, this is just my preferred method.) 

White Popcorn Lime Kettle Corn 2

There is a big bag of popcorn at Costco called Skinny Pop because it just has popcorn, oil and salt.  My friend, Paige, at For Love of the Table mentioned how hard it is to eat just a little bit once you open the bag.  I’ve seen it and resisted the temptation to buy it because I know I can just make my own popcorn at home.  I thought it was funny that Paige posted a photo of the empty bag of popcorn with Skinny crossed off the label and she wrote in Piggy.  She thinks it should be called Piggy Pop because it’s hard to stop eating it once you get started.  I’ll just say that this combination of lime and salt (and a little sweetness from the sugar) as well as just my version of plain popcorn with coconut oil and salt is pretty hard to stop eating when I make a big bowl of it.  It’s my version of Piggy Pop. Winking smile