dessert

Girlbert's Shamrock Shake

Note: 

Everybody's talking about that funky, neon green shake that McDonald's blesses us with every St. Patrick's Day.  Apparently, people like my Little Brother are even trying to make their version at home, to keep with the 43-year-old, Irish-American tradition of green-shake eating whilst sparing themselves a trip to the supersized burger-and-fries mega-chain.  While there are already plenty of recipes out there, most of them requiring a lot of emerald food coloring, so I've got a solution that will get you the green naturally (unlike the crazy leprechaun wig that I'm currently wearing!) and deliciously!  I even surprised myself!

Tools needed: 
blender
Time: 
15 minutes
Shamrock Shake a la Girlbert
Ingredients: 
1/2 cup coconut cream, really cold, but not frozen
1/4 cup mint leaves, washed
1 1/2 cups raw baby spinach leaves, washed
1/2 cup raw parsley leaves, washed
1/2 cup dandelion leaves, washed
1 frozen banana
1 large, ripe pear, washed and cored
1/2 cup ice
Directions: 
  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender, blend on high until delicious! 
  2. Add more ice if necessary and blend again.
  3. Drink with a straw wearing a green wig!
Serves: 
1

Orange-Pumpkin Spice Bread

Note: 

Okay, so it's really just cake, but it's the pumpkin holiday time of year, so let's have some dessert!  I made this recipe many years ago, but recently needed something to bring to a luncheon, and this was the perfect complement to our after-lunch tea.  I  switched it up a a bit by changing some of the sugar in for some applesauce and it was just perfectly moist, and not too sweet.

Tools needed: 
1 9-in loaf pan
Time: 
1.5 hours
Orange Pumpkin Spice Cake
Ingredients: 
1/2 15oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pureed apple (or store-bought applesauce)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1 3/4 cup flour (original recipe calls for bleached all-purpose, but I used whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs orange zest, plus 1 tsp orange zest
Directions: 
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a small saucepan over medium heat until steamy.
  3. Stirring continuously, cook until pumpkin is stiff and starts to stick to the pan bottom, about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a medium bowl; whisk in 3/4 cup water, then brown sugar, then applesauce, then oil, then eggs, until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients, then fold into the pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  6. Mix in 1 tbs orange zest.
  7. Scrape batter into well-greased pan.  Top with remaining 1 tsp orange zest.
  8. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 45 minutes. (or until toothpick comes clean)
  9. Turn onto a wire rack and cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Recipe doubles easily (what else are you going to do with that half can of pumpkin?) and freezes well.

Serves: 
12 slices

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins (GF)

Note: 

I usually don't bake, but I found this recipe on an old friend's blog, and the moment I saw it, I've been itching to make it!  My friend's version is gluten-free, but I didn't have all the right ingredients, so I altered the recipe a bit  to make them for myself, but I'm including the gluten-free exchanges in the ingredients.

I loved the idea of combining chocolate and one of the most underated, but prolific vegetables together, in one, delicious muffin!  I made them this morning, and I was not disappointed - not too sweet, but not too 'veggie', either!  If you like chocolate, and like me, know that you can never eat too many veggies, this is the treat for you!  And your kids, too, a la Jessica Seinfeld, huh?

Read about Erika's amazing life and family here.

Tools needed: 
hand mixer, muffin tin(s), muffin cups, whisk, rubber spatula, 2 mixing bowls
Time: 
1.5 - 2 hours
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
Ingredients: 
2 cups flour (for gluten free, use GF flour and 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I left out, used a little extra regular sugar)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
3 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place paper cups in muffin tins, or spray two 8in. loaf pans.
  3. Place flour (and xantham gum, if GF version), salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder in medium bowl.  Use wire whisk to combine.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, place oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Mix with hand mixer until fluffy.  Stir in applesauce and shredded zucchini.  Stir in flour mixture until just combines.  Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Divide batter and bake for 50 minutes for loaves or 25-30 minutes for muffins or until a toothpick comes out clean.

TIP: Don't have any applesauce, but have an apple? Cut up 1 large apple into chunks, remove core/seeds, blend with some water until consistency you like, simmer on the stove for a few minutes...voila!  1/2 cup applesauce!  Or make more and save some for later - I like to put mine on pancakes or waffles in lieu of syrup. (Got that from Boyfriend's sister-in-law - thanks, Isabel!)

Serves: 
Many! Makes 18 muffins

Amaranth-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note: 

We made, enjoyed, and gifted these unusual cookies as our Official Christmas Cookie this year.  Protein-packed, popped amaranth not only provides a hearty crunch and tantalizing texture, but a healthy excuse to make cookies, too!  But you're not losing any sweetness in the flavor department with the addition of chocolate chips.  Go ahead, you need your protein!

More about all the nutrition benefits of amaranth.

Tools needed: 
cookie sheet, non-stick frying pan with corresponding lid
Time: 
1.5 hours
Popped Amaranth Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients: 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter or butter substitute
2 eggs
2 tbs vanilla
2 cups plus 2 tbs white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 cups popped amaranth (directions below)
1 generous cup chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Cream together butter and sugars.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.  Add dry mixture to the above ingredients.
  4. Once beaten smooth, add popped amaranth, chocolate chips, and cranberries (if desired).
  5. Beat the mixture well.  Drop cookies 2 inches apart on a well-greased cookie sheet and bake to 7-9 minutes.  (If cookies spread out too much, add 2 tbs of flour.)

Directions for popping amaranth: (General rule is 1/4 cup unpopped produces about 1 cup popped.)  Heat frying pan.  Once hot, test 2-4 amaranth seeds to see if they pop quickly.  If so proceed by adding 1-2 tbs of amaranth to the pan.  It should pop quickly.  Cover and keep the pan moving, checking every 15 seconds or so.  Don't leave unattended, or it will burn.  Like popcorn, not every kernel will pop, but it'll will be just fine in the cookies!Enjoy!

Serves: 
Makes 60 medium-size cookies!

Pumpkin Orange Mascarpone Pie

Note: 

This decadent twist on traditional pumpkin pie is quite possibly my favorite holiday indulgence. 

I have been making this pie for holidays for about 5 years now, and its been an absolute smash with my family.  Since I've moved to California, I've brought it to friends' holiday dinners, and it's received rave reviews there, too.  Loaded with yumminess, it is certainly packed with calories, but it will make you smile, so it's a recipe for a a smiley, happy experience! It's the holidays, people - everything in moderation. Taste the happieness!

Tools needed: 
9-10" pie plate, food processor
Time: 
1 hour, 20 minutes
Pumpkin Orange Mascarpone Pie
Ingredients: 
2 cups finely crushed gingersnap crumbs (pulse in food processor)
6 tbs unsalted butter, melted
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz.)
1 tsp orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In the pie plate, stir together gingersnap crumbs with melted butter and press into pie crust with a spoon.  Bake until set, about 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Increase oven heat to 350 degrees.
  4.  Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and 2/3 cup sugar in a large bowl until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each egg.  Add pumpkin, orange liqueur, citrus zests, spices, and salt.  Mix until smooth.
  5. Pour filling into crust and bake until edgees are firm but center still jiggles a bit, about 45-50 minutes.  Bake any extra filling in ramekins or a muffin tins.
  6. Cool to room temperature, then chill at least 6 hours, and up to overnight.
  7. Enjoy!
Serves: 
8

Greenberry Smoothie

Note: 

In the neverending effort to incorporate more greens in my diet, I've been adding greens to my morning smoothies, and it's fantastic!  This is my favorite version so far:  the spinach has a pretty undetectable flavor and the berries make it purple, so kiddos and health-phobes won't know the difference.  Enjoy the green deliciousness, and email me if you have any taste-tantalizing tweaks or tips!

Tools needed: 
blender
Time: 
10 minutes
Greenberry Smoothie - Wait - where's the green?
Ingredients: 
1 banana, peeled, chopped into pieces
2 oranges, peeled, deseeded and quarters
1 1/2 cups total, any combination of frozen blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, chopped strawberries (I choose 3, 1/2 cup of each)
1/2 - 1 cup almond milk (or preferred milk, may have to adjust amount to desired consistency)
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, rinsed (or favorite greens like parsley or arugula)
Directions: 
  1. Put all ingredients into blender, and blend with lid on until everything is mixed thoroughly and your desired consistency.  You may need to add milk to thin it, or more frozen fruit to thicken it.
  2. Pour into a fun glass and serve or consume immediately.

Tips: Use spinach if you "don't want to know" or throw in some parsley, arugula, or cilantro to really add some zing and "green" flavor to your smoothie.

Serves: 
2

Banana Cupcakes (GF)

Note: 

My friend Marie made this recipe as a cake for Boyfriend's birthday last year, and we loved the simplicity to yumminess factor so much, it was requested again this year!  I made 40 of these cupcakes for his 40th birthday party last week.  Well, these and those yummy chocolate chip zucchini muffins (cleverly disguised at cupcakes) I put on the site a couple of weeks ago.  I'm happy to report that the guests enjoyed both snarfed each flavor with equal satisfaction!

Tools needed: 
electric mixer, muffin tins/cups
Time: 
1 - 1.5 hours
Banana Cupcakes
Ingredients: 
1 1/2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp lemon juice
3 cups gluten-free flour (regular flour works, too)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup milk (soy or nut milk works for dairy-free version)
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tins with paper cups or grease a 9 X 12 baking pan.
  3. Mash ripe bananas with a fork in a small bowl with lemon juice.
  4. Put flour and baking soda in a bowl and whisk together.
  5. Mix all wet ingredients (but banana/lemon mixture) and sugar in a large bowl and mix with electric mixer.  Once wet ingredients are thoroughly combined, gently mix in banana mixture with the fork.
  6. Mix in the dry ingredients on low or fold in with a spoon.
  7. Pour into greased baking pan or divide batter among 24 cupcake cups.
  8. Bake cake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.  For cupcakes, bake for 35-40 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting (if desired, we served without).

TIP: Don't have any applesauce, but have an apple? Cut up 1 large apple into chunks, remove core/seeds, blend with some water until consistency you like, simmer on the stove for a few minutes...voila!  1/2 cup applesauce!  Or make more and save some for later - I like to put mine on pancakes or waffles in lieu of syrup. (Got that from Boyfriend's sister-in-law - thanks, Isabel!)

Serves: 
Makes 24 cupcakes

Chocolate Pecan Bars

Note: 

Gooey, yummy, chocolatey deliciousness!  Earned rave reviews at a recent potluck party.  I am not recommending these as having any health benefits, other than they'll make you smile!

Tools needed: 
9 X 12 baking dish or pan
Time: 
1.25 hours
Pecan Bars
Ingredients: 
Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour (gluten-free for a gluten-free dessert)
1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup corn starch
3/4 cup butter, softened
Filling:
1 cup honey
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions: 

To make crust:

  1. Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and cor starch in a large bowl.
  2. Cut in butter until crumbly.
  3. Press into greased baking pan.
  4. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minute until edges are lightly browned.

To make filling:

  1. Stir together honey, remaining sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla in a large bowl until blended.
  2. Add pecans and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour over crust and bake an additional 35 minutes until filling is firm and slightly softer in the center.

Cool completely, about 2 hours, before cutting into bars.

Serves: 
Many!

Coconut Rice Pudding

Note: 

I sampled this vegan delight at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse during my Colorado visit, and it brought back memories of my grandmother's rice pudding.  The added yumminess and sophistication of the coconut milk makes it super-delicious!

Time: 
1.5 hours
Coconut Rice Pudding
Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
Shredded toasted coconut
Dash of cinnamon
Dried apricots (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the shredded coconut, cinnamon, and dried apricots, in a saucepan over meium-low heat.
  2. Simmer, stirring often, until thickened, approximately 1 hour.
  3. Stir in some shredded coconut, top with more shredded coconut, cinnamon, and dried apricots.
Serves: 
4

Brown Butter Raspberry Tart

Note: 

My Denver friend Kirsten always brings amazing dishes to dinner parties and potlucks, and a lunch with friends this week was no exception.  This recipe is pretty tricky, but well worth the effort - DELICIOUS.

Tools needed: 
9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, rimmed baking sheet, whisk, medium bowls
Time: 
1.5 hours
Raspberry Tart
Ingredients: 
For crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tsp all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
For filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
12 oz. fresh raspberries
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions: 

For crust:Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto sides and bottom of pan.Bake crust until golden, about 18 minutes (crust will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.For filling:Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Cook butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often, about 6 minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.Arrange raspberries, pointed side up and close together in concentric circles, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over berries. Place tart on rimmed baking sheet. Bake tart until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool tart completely in pan on rack. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.Remove tart pan sides. Place tart on platter. Cut into wedges and serve. 

Serves: 
8-10
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