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.