Saturday, November 30, 2013

Banana Bread Cheesecake Bars

You know how sometimes, when you make banana bread, you put a cream cheese drizzle on top?
Well....I decided that banana bread needed a whole layer of cheesecake on top.
So then this happened.
This glorious yet terribly unattractive bar.
Don't let its looks fool you. It's amazing.
Banana bread-y....
Delicious from top to bottom.
But...don't take my word for it. Whip it up today. 
Oddly enough this was a huge hit with men waaaaay more than women. Don't get me wrong....the women enjoyed it...but the men went crazy for it. 
Go figure. 

Banana Bread Cheesecake Bars

Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
1 cup banana, mashed
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 X 13 pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray, set aside.
Prepare banana bread layer - In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and banana until well mixed. Whisk in the mashed banana, oil, and eggs. 
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined and no white streaks remain. 
Spread into prepared 9 X 13 pan.

Prepare cheesecake - Beat together cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in pecans.
Carefully spoon/spread the cheesecake over the banana bread in the pan as best you can.

Bake at 350 until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean and top is browned and puffy, about 30 - 45 minutes. (Keep an eye on it)

As it cools it will sink down and look...well....pretty ugly. BUT don't worry, when you cut it it will look better. You can use the parchment paper to lift it out of the pan when it is completely cool.

See....not terribly pretty.
It still tastes delicious though. Don't judge it until after you taste it!!

I liked these even better after they chilled in the fridge for a few hours but you can serve them at room temp.

Be sure to pop over to Carole's Chatter for some fun and tasty links!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Creme De Menthe Bars

These look a little bit like Nanaimo Bars, don't they?
They are pretty similar.
Well, except for the fact that these are minty and green instead of custardy and yellow.
And...minty and green just happens to be perfect for Christmas time. (Also St. Patrick's Day)
I am one of those people that goes out and buys a bottle of Creme De Menthe liqueur just to make a recipe. Then I have a bottle of Creme De Menthe sitting in the cupboard staring at me...mocking me.... daring me to use it in something for months. 
Today I decided to show that bottle of liqueur who was boss. I went crazy and whipped up some Creme De Menthe bars for a Christmas platter I was making. 
Turns out... this was a fabulous idea. 
Creme De Menthe may taste like Scope mouthwash if you drink a shot of it BUT put it in a recipe and it is just the perfect amount of pepperminty goodness.

Creme De Menthe Bars

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 egg
2 cups graham crackers 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Middle Layer
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup Creme De Menthe liqueur
3 cups icing sugar

Top Layer
1/4 cup butter
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 X 9 pan with parchment paper, set aside.
Bottom layer - In a medium sized mixing bowl, place the melted butter. Stir in the cocoa powder until smooth. Stir in egg, graham crumbs, brown sugar, and vanilla until well combined.
Press evenly into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 13 - 15 minutes (until set).
Remove from heat and let cool. When base is at room temp, prepare the middle layer.
Middle layer -- Beat together the melted butter, Creme De Menthe, and icing sugar until smooth.
Spread evenly over cooled bottom layer. Chill for a good 15 - 20 minutes before spreading on top layer.

Top Layer - In a microwave safe bowl, place butter and chocolate chips. Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring well in between, until melted and smooth. (Be careful not to overheat or chocolate will seize.)
Spread evenly over the chilled middle layer. 

Set in fridge for 20 - 30 minutes to firm up the chocolate before slicing. You can use the parchment paper to help you lift the bar out of the pan to make cutting easier.

A tip to making sure you don't smear chocolate as you cut -- rinse the knife blade and wipe it between each cut. Yes...kind of a pain in the butt...but... it really does help your bar look nicer. 
These bars freeze really well too.
If you want it even more chocolaty... you can use Oreo baking crumbs instead of graham cracker crumbs for the base.
If you want a deeper green color you can add green food coloring to the middle layer. I like the light green color you get from just the Creme De Menthe so I didn't add any. 

For some fabulous, fun, and tasty links, be sure to visit -- Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, My Turn (for us)Or So She Says, Horrific Knits, The Chicken Chick, and Ms. enPlace.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Glazed Lemon Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

I am definitely getting closer to finding a gluten free recipe that I will fall in love with. 
This lemon cake is very lemony and the texture is prettydarnclose to "regular" cake. 
I love the lemon "frosting" on top. It's so funky.
It melts in your mouth. 
Like...melts away to this silky lemon substance that is totally addicting. You really have to try it. The secret to frosting it on the cake is making sure your cake is chilled before spreading it on. If your cake is the slightest bit warm then the frosting will melt away. 

Glazed Lemon Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

6 eggs
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp maple syrup
1 heaping tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray, set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon zest. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut flour, baking powder, and salt. 
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Whisk in the coconut oil until no lumps remain.
Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 35 - 45 minutes (keep an eye on it). 
Remove from oven and, using a fork, poke holes all over cake. 
Pour the lemon juice evenly over the cake so it sinks in (leave in the pulp too!).

Let cake cool completely before frosting. (Chill for best results.)
Prepare frosting -- Mix together coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Place bowl in freezer to help solidify the coconut oil. You want to check it every few minutes to make sure it does not completely set up!! You want it to be cloudy in appearance.
When it is cloudy, whisk the frosting until it starts to resemble very soft butter. 

When it looks like this then plop it onto your cake and quickly spread it. It will harden quickly once it is on the cool cake. This is a very thin frosting, just a bit thicker than a glaze. 

Cut and serve.
I bet if you served this to your guests they would not even be able to tell it was gluten and dairy free. 
I love how lemony it is. Definitely do not skimp on the lemon zest!

Be sure to visit Carole's Chatter and Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons and My Turn (for us) for tons of great links!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jo's Crazy Chicken Casserole

This casserole originated as a what-do-I-have-left-in-the-fridge-to-eat casserole. 
Ever make one of those?
Sometimes they turn out delicious and sometimes they are pretty nasty interesting.
This one, thankfully, is one of the delicious ones. I've made it a couple of times now and haven't had anyone not like it. 
This is a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey after Thanksgiving. 

Jo's Crazy Chicken Casserole

3 cups chicken, cooked & chopped
1/2 head broccoli, cooked & chopped
3 cups pasta, cooked
1 cup black beans (canned)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup zucchini, cooked & diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin
dash cayenne
salt & pepper
1 can (10 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 cup French's Fried Onions

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 X 13 baking pan with cooking spray, set aside. 
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients EXCEPT for the French's Fried Onions.
Once well mixed, spread into the prepared baking pan.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until heated through.
Remove from heat and top with the French's Fried Onions. 

Return to oven for another 15 - 20 minutes. 
Serve hot.

One of the things I love about this is it takes about 2 seconds to make. You throw everything in a bowl and *ta-daah* done. Even if you need to cook the broccoli and pasta and zucchini -- it only adds about 15 minutes to the time. 
(I boiled my pasta, used a slotted spoon to remove it from the pot, then threw in the broccoli and zucchini to the boiling water and cooked them for about 5 minutes. They finish cooking in the oven.)
Be sure to visit Adorned From Above and Dizzy Busy & Hungry and Easy Life for some crafty & tasty links!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cinnamon Bun Muffins (Gluten Free)

I don't really know how I am feeling about gluten free baking. 
I have made some things that tasted okay but I am still a little put off by the texture. This recipe has a lovely cinnamon taste and the texture is fairly close to a "regular" muffin. Maybe a little drier.
I will keep persevering as I am determined to find a gluten free recipe that I will fall in love with. 
I do hope you give these a try and let us know what you think. 

Cinnamon Bun Muffins (Gluten Free)

Cinnamon Mixture
2 Tbsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp butter, melted

1/2 cup no fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 cup almond flour
1 cup quinoa flour
1 Tbsp coconut flour
pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup (for brushing on top)

Preheat oven to 310 degrees (YES, 310, not 350!) Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, set aside.
To make cinnamon mixture - In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon, maple syrup, and butter. Set aside.
To make muffins - In a large bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, maple syrup, and eggs. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together almond flour, quinoa flour, coconut flour, salt, and baking soda. 
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Batter will be thick.
Place a bit of batter into each prepared muffin cup. 
Top with approx 1 Tbsp of the cinnamon filling.
Place another scoop of batter into each muffin cup.
Sprinkle each muffin with some of the pecans. 

Bake at 310 for approx 25 minutes. Toothpick inserted into center will come out clean and tops should be browned.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. 
Brush the tops of the muffins with the extra maple syrup. 

Depending on the size of your muffin tins you may get more or less muffins.
These are very cinnamony. Be sure not to skimp on the cinnamon - it says 2 Tbsp so don't cut it back!
Do you have any tips for gluten free baking?
We would love to hear from you!

Looking for some tasty and crafty links? Head over to these great sites -- Anyonita Nibbles, Hun...What's For Dinner?, Chef In Training, Carole's Chatter, and Table For Seven.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cinnamon Bun Cheesecake Mini Calzones

I tend to get a little bit obsessed with something one it gets in my brain.
Take this recipe for example...
I was trying to think of something to make using Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls and/or Philadelphia Cream Cheese that wasn't already all over the internet. (Don't ask me why I had those 2 ingredients stuck in my head... too much time on Pinterest, I think...) 
Suddenly calzones popped in my head. 
Know what? I have not been able to find anything similar anywhere online. Oh, sure...there are sweet/dessert calzones...but no cinnamon bun, cheesecake, or cinnamon bun cheesecake calzones. 
I decided these had to be made ASAP.
They are a little messy to make so be prepared to rinse your hands a million times, but other than that, they are super simple.
Oh, yeah, they are also super amazingly delicious with only 5 ingredients. 

Cinnamon Bun Cheesecake Mini Calzones

8 oz (1 pkg) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temp
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the Philadelphia cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the brown sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

Stir in the pecans.

Set bowl in fridge while preparing cinnamon rolls.
Lay a large strip of parchment paper on your work surface.
Open both cans of Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls and unroll the dough. Lay the strips side by side on the parchment paper. 

Pinch the strips together at the seams. Then, lay another strip of parchment paper on top of the dough. Carefully flip the dough over onto the top parchment paper. 
Peel off the parchment paper that is now on top. Pinch the seams together on this side as well. Use your fingers to spread out the lumps of cinnamon filling that you may have on the dough. 
Take a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter about 4 inches across and cut out as many circles of dough as you can get. 

You can re-roll the scraps once to get about 2 - 3 more circles. (This is a very messy process so be patient)
In the middle of each circle place approx 1 Tbsp of the cheesecake mixture.

Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges shut. Use the tines of a fork to further press the edges of the dough firmly together. (This is the part where you may have to rinse your hands a million times. The dough can get a little slippery while you are handling it!)

Place the mini calzones onto your prepared cookie sheet. 
Repeat until all the dough is used. (I get anywhere between 12 - 14 in total and usually have a bit of the cheesecake filling leftover. Which I eat. Hey - it doesn't have raw eggs and it's delicious. Don't judge me.)

Bake at 350 until dough is golden brown, approx 20 - 25 minutes. 
Remove from heat and let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to wire rack to cool completely. You can serve as is.... can drizzle with the frosting that comes in with the Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls. 

Don't worry if your seams come apart a little bit. They still taste amazing. A little bit of cheesecake filling might poke out but I didn't seem to have any major leaks. 
From start to finish I think these took me about 20 minutes. (Then another 25 to cook them) 

Look at all that yummy, gooey, cheesecake-y, calzone-y deliciousness. 
Admit want one.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Zucchini Streusel Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

I've been doing some experimenting with gluten free baking. Quite a few people at the bake sales we have been holding have asked for gluten free. 
Myself, I am not a huge fan of gluten free. It's mostly a texture thing for me, sometimes a taste thing. 
This recipe, which I found over at The Unrefined Kitchen, has been one of my favorites so far. 
The texture is a little bit weird (read: different than "regular" zucchini bread), but the taste is really good.
Initially I was not loving the streusel topping (I tasted it raw) BUT once it was cooked on the bread it transformed into something delicious. It might look a little dry in the photos but it is anything but. 
This is a very moist bread that I am sure most people would not even guess was gluten free. 
I made a few changes to accommodate our own tastes plus subbed out what I had on hand. If you want to check out the original version you can find it HERE

Zucchini Streusel Bread (Gluten Free,Dairy Free)

1/3 cup slivered almonds
3 Tbsp coconut flour, sifted
1 Tbsp coconut oil 
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt

7 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 325. Line a 4 1/2 X 8 1/2 loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together streusel ingredients (almonds, coconut flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt) with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs very well. Whisk in applesauce, maple syrup, zucchini, and vanilla.
Place a mesh sifter over a separate bowl. Place the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt into the sifter. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. 
Pour into prepared loaf pan.

Top with the streusel topping.

Bake at 325 for 55 - 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. (Mine took a totally of one hour 10 minutes! Just keep an eye on it.) **If you find the top is browning too much then cover with a piece of tinfoil and keep baking until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.**

Let cool about 15 - 20 minutes in pan. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and use the parchment paper to remove the loaf. Let cool completely on wire rack.

It is best to wait until it is completely cool before trying to slice the loaf. 
As well as being gluten free this is also dairy free. 
The texture is a little bit spongy. Not horribly so....just a little bit. I wasn't expecting it from looking at the slices. I thought it was going to be dry so was a surprised at how moist it was. 
Out of curiosity I looked up the nutritional info to see how it compared to a "regular" zucchini streusel loaf. 
According to Myfitnesspal -- 
This recipe is - 109 calories, 12 carbs, 5 fat, and 4 protein for 1/16th of the recipe.
A "regular" loaf comes in at - 185 calories, 155 carbs, 35 fat, and 44 protein for 1/16th of the recipe. 
That is quite the difference... 76 calories less per slice and 143 less carbs

We're sharing at Carole's Chatter, be sure to pop by and say hi.