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.