Category Archives: Sweets

Hot Day Cool

It’s getting up there on the thermometer these days.  While I spend most of my day in air conditioning, I often think about what I’d be doing were I not.  Despite the warm weather (I grew up in the heat – 100 degree, what?!), I would certainly be spending my time outside – and perhaps even with a cold (or hot) treat.  I’ve rounded up some of fun links – what are yours?

Apparently, it’s hot drinks that keep us cool in the heat.

A new list of LA’s Best Ice Cream Parlors.

My good friend Claire’s wonderful tale of why she loves Sweet Rose Creamery.

A dairy-free alternative that looks like a cinch to make (if you have a blender + ice cream maker).

A fairly easy recipe for a light dinner on the patio courtesy of Giada.  (Need to try these!)

While I’m missing Jack’s awesome iced coffee, I recently discovered Peet’s new cold brew Baridi coffee.  YUM!

Almond Butter + Blackberry Bars

I may be one of the few kids who didn’t grow up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  There were no nut allergies in our house, we just never ate anything with peanut butter.  As an adult, I go in phases where I enjoy it, and when I saw this recipe last week for Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, I thought it would be a great way to get a taste of a PB&J.  The recipe also looked simple enough that I could use my preferred nut-butter – Almond Butter with Flaxseeds, and my preferred jelly – Blackberry Preserves.  Not only are there just a few ingredients for this recipe, it also requires minimal cooking and the refrigerator/freezer “bakes” them.  However, like Gwyneth’s Vegetarian Chili, there are a few easy steps, but each requires a significant amount of time to pass from one to the next, making this a better recipe for a weekend.  That said, the final result is a great snack and fun to make!  The portion sizes are small – so I think it would be a great one to make for kids (with no nut allergies, of course).  And for those of you who love chocolate and peanut butter- a drizzle of dark chocolate could make these amazing.

Some tips

  • I used Trader Joe’s Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds (the flax adds some fiber)
  • I used Whole Foods Light Maple Syrup (I used 1/2 cup, but I think 1/4 cup would be fine) – Amber Agave will probably work too
  • I think 3 tbsp. of preserves is plenty – 1/4 cup seemed like too much
  • After cutting into triangles, I took 2 pieces (1 square) – wrapped in saran wrap, and put all in a freezer bag to store.  Scott and I agree they taste better frozen than refrigerated.

Almond Butter & Blackberry Bars

Chocolate-Spiked Oatmeal Cookies

Last week I found myself craving oats.  Admittedly, a little strange.  I found a recipe for oatmeal cookies that looked great and no dairy- perfect experimenting material!  I was really excited to make a recipe with raw honey, flaxseed meal and almond butter – new baking ingredients for me.  Could this be the perfect cookie?  The recipe was incredibly easy to follow, and I feel like the new items I purchased are good staples to add to our pantry – but cookies, these are not.  I would describe them more as a nutrition bar consistency in the shape of a cookie – the flavor being nice nonetheless.  I liked that for 12-24 cookies, it only calls for 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips and they cook quick.   As cookies can be to individuals what bagels and pizza are to New Yorkers, this might not be the greatest recipe to bring to a party in mixed company.  That being said, if you’re feeling adventurous (and craving oats) try this recipe.  I think you’ll be pleased.

Some tips

  • I used Silpats instead of spraying the pans with Olive Oil spray
  • I added 1/2 tsp. more cinnamon
  • I made the cookies in two batches – one using an ice cream scoop; the others using a tbsp. measuring soon – ice cream scoop yields 12 cookies and tablespoon yields 24 cookies
  • Ignore the recipe’s description these will be crispy – 8-9 minutes is perfect to cook these at 350 (longer makes them like ‘cardboard cookies,’ according to Scott)

Chocolate Spiked Oatmeal Cookies

Lisa’s Mini Banana Cream Pies

I am happy to introduce you to a longtime and dear friend of mine, Lisa.  Of the many things we bond over, good food and cooking are definitely two of them.  She is a gourmet chef at heart and continues to inspire me to think outside the box – in fact, I didn’t know what a creme brulee torch looked like until we lived together.  Today, she is teaching us how to make her Low fat Mini Banana Cream Pies.  I cannot wait to hear how you enjoy when you make at home.  Thank you for sharing a wonderfully delicious recipe with us!

My boyfriend and I have this little routine we’ve gotten into. On my way to the grocery store I ask him if he needs anything and he gives me a list that usually includes ‘2-3 bananas.’ I buy them for him, and then they sit on our kitchen counter until they are too overripe to eat, at which point my boyfriend shrugs and says ‘guess you should make your banana bread’ – which isn’t really ‘mine’ so much as this Cooking Light recipe which I add chocolate chips to.

But, this week, I didn’t have much time to bake, so I channeled my inner Sandra Lee and put together a great Semi-Homemade dessert. I paired the over-ripe bananas with a few simple ingredients – pre-made graham cracker crust, a few chocolate chips, sugar-free vanilla pudding, and cool whip – to make Low-fat /Low-cal Mini Banana Cream Pies.

These ended up being so simple and delicious I just had to share.

A few notes on my process:

  • I used the mini Keebler Ready Crusts for portion control (1 mini pie each, NO seconds!) but a big crust would work too
  • I gave my crusts a chocolate bottom by pouring a tiny bit of melted chocolate into each and spreading it around. I did this more for my boyfriend (a chocoholic) than b/c the pies needed it, so feel free to skip this step if you want an even healthier dessert.
  • I used sugar-free Jello pudding paired with nonfat milk to cut calories/fat as well as non fat whipped topping and my boyfriend didn’t notice the difference.
  • I used vanilla pudding (instead of banana) b/c once I assembled the pies I let them sit in the fridge for a few hours the banana flavor spreads into the pudding, giving you a rich banana taste. If however, you don’t have time to let them sit, you may want to try banana flavored pudding.
  • Finally, you can use as much or as little whipped topping on each pie. Using the spray kind is easiest. But, if I buy it in the tub, I like to make my own temporary pastry bag using a Ziploc. I spoon the whipped topping into a Ziploc and then cut off one of the bottom corners of the bag. I can then squeeze the whipped cream into a pretty dollop (or pattern) on top of the pie.

Pie Bottoms

Lisa’s (Low Fat) Mini Banana Cream Pies
(click picture for recipe)