Blueberry Granola Bars

Blueberry Granola Bras

I took these blueberry granola bars to a friend’s house last night. I was invited over for dinner and wanted to bring something. My friends loved them. I love them, too.

They aren’t too sweet and make a wonderful dessert. The crust is tender and crumbly. The blueberry filling adds just the right amount of flavor and sweetness. I could see adding a scoop of ice cream, if you wanted to dress them up a bit. One of my friends thought they would make a great breakfast. I agree.

They freeze well, too.

Here is the recipe. Enjoy.

Blueberry Granola Bars

3 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen

¾ c. sugar

1/3 c. water

2 T. cornstarch

2 t. cinnamon

½ t. salt

2 c. flour

1 T. baking powder

2 t. cinnamon

½ t. baking soda

1 c. butter

2 c. rolled oats

¾ c. chopped nuts, optional

1 c. packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries with the sugar, water cornstarch and salt. Heat to a simmer, stirring constantly. Once mixture gets bubbly and thickens up, remove from heat and set aside. In mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats, nuts, if using, and brown sugar. Stir mixture until well combined. I actually used my hands to get it to stick together better. Press half of oat mixture into prepared pan. Pour over the blueberry mixture, spreading evenly in pan. Top with the rest of the oat mixture. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. I used a glass baking dish, so I reduced the heat to 325 once I put the bars in the oven to bake. Cool before cutting into bars.  

Pickled Beets

Pickled Beets

I love beets in all sorts of dishes. The bright color and earthy flavor appeal to me. They are so versatile. Beets are great in soups, salads and even desserts. One of my favorite ways to prepare beets is to pickle them.

Last week, I was lucky enough to get some really beautiful organic beets at a local produce market. I made beet soup and beet cake and enjoyed the greens steamed.

I had enough beets left to pickle some. This simple preparation makes them perfect to add to salads, or to enjoy on their own. They will keep in the fridge for weeks and weeks. I sometimes serve pickled beets with cheese and crackers as an appetizer.

I cooked my beets by just boiling them whole until tender, but you can also roast them. Once cooked, just let them cool a little and slip off the skins. Then just dice them up and add the dressing. They will taste better after a few days in the fridge. It gives the dressing a chance to get into the beets and onion and give them that pickled flavor. Feel free to add other seasonings. I had some fresh dill, so that is what I used.

Pickled Beets 

2 lbs. beets, greens trimmed off, leaving 1 inch of the stem

1 red onion, peeled and sliced thin

1 c. cider vinegar

1/2 c. sugar- more or less to suit your taste*

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T. fresh dill snipped, or 1 t. dried

2 t. salt

1 t. fresh ground pepper

1/2 t. celery seed

dash of hot sauce

Cook beets whole until tender. I boiled my beets in a large pot of water for about 35 minutes- they were kind of big. You could roast them, if you prefer. Place in cold water for 5 minutes, then remove from the water and slip off the skins. They usually come off easily, but you might have to peel them. Dice into 1/2 -inch cubes and place in a bowl. Add the onion. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the beets. Stir to combine, cover and place in fridge. These are ready to eat in a couple of days. Keep for weeks.

*You can also omit the sugar altogether- they will be very tart- but still tasty.

Chocolate Beet Cake

Chocolate Beet Cake

I got some beautiful beets the other day. I made a batch of beet and potato soup. I had some extra beets and decided to make this chocolate beet cake. I have posted the recipe before, but thought I would post it again, after someone asked me about it. This is one of my favorite cake recipes.

When I say beet cake, a lot of people give me a funny look. First, there are the beet haters, and you know who you are. The people who just don’t like the taste of beets. I get that, beets are an acquired taste.

Then there are the people who like beets, but could never picture them in a cake. I bake cakes with carrots in them,  zucchini and even parsnips. Adding beets to a cake is not so far off. The beets add a subtle red color to the cake, but they also add moistness. The end result is a cake that is full of flavor and has a wonderful, moist texture.

Truth is, I don’t really taste the beets in the cake much at all. I taste the chocolate. So here is the chocolate beet cake recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Chocolate Beet Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil

1½ cups grated cooked beets

2 teaspoons vanilla

Powdered sugar, optional, or cream cheese frosting- recipe below

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, soda, salt, sugar and cocoa in a bowl; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and oil. Beat in vanilla and continue beating until well blended. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until well mixed; stir in beets. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes, or until cake bounces back when touched lightly with finger. Cool in pan on a rack. Frost cooled cake, or dust with powdered sugar.

Frosting recipe:

8 oz. Cream cheese, softened

3/4 c. powdered sugar- or more to taste

1 stick butter, room temperature

Beat all together until fluffy. Frost cake and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Mint Cocoa Hearts

Mint Cocoa Hearts

If you are looking for a simple chocolate treat- that requires no cooking – try Mint Cocoa Hearts. They are tiny, but pack a lot of flavor.

This easy to make candy is made with just a few ingredients. The “dough” is mixed and rolled out. Then you just cut them out into little hearts.

They taste great and they are also a nice project for kids. There is no special equipment needed other than a tiny heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Once they have time to set up- they can be boxed up- or wrapped in individual foils.

So if time is short, and you really want to make something homemade this Valentine’s Day- these could be the answer.

Mint Cocoa Hearts

9 c. powdered sugar
1 c. cocoa
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. water
2 t. peppermint extract

In large bowl combine ingredients until well blended. You can add more water, if needed, 1 teaspoon at a time. Divide mixture into 2 pieces and shape in balls. Place each between sheets of wax paper and roll out to 1/4 -inch thickness. Cut out with tiny cutters and place on foil-lined tray. Chill several hours, then wrap up in colored foil or place in tiny candy bags. Makes 80 (1-inch) candies.

Cut out with heart-shaped cookie cutters

Chocolate Crepes

Chocolate Crepes with Strawberries

I love these chocolate crepes. They make a great dessert, or breakfast, for Valentine’s Day.  The crepes pair nicely with fresh berries, but you could add any number of fillings. Ice cream works, or try jam, pudding, custard or whipped cream.

I topped mine with berries and whipped cream. You could also add some shaved chocolate  as a topping.

If you haven’t made crepes, this might be just the recipe to convince you.

I often make a double batch of the crepes, then freeze some, between layers of wax paper. That way I can have crepes whenever I want.

Truth is, you can fill these crepes with all sorts of stuff. I had fresh berries, so that is what I used. I added some Kahlua to the batter for a little extra flavor and it worked out just great.

You can have all the components ready, then just assemble when ready to serve. Such a lovely dessert.

Here is the recipe.

Chocolate Crepes

1 c. flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
¼ c. cocoa
3 T. sugar
¼ c. Kahlua or other coffee flavored liqueur or ¼ c. strong coffee
1/4 c. butter, melted and cooled

Mix all ingredients in blender (except butter) until smooth, scraping sides often. Add butter and blend well. Let stand for 30 minutes before using, or batter can be refrigerated, covered, overnight. Beat again, just before using.
Heat 6 or 7 inch skillet. Brush with butter or oil and pour in about 1 tablespoon of batter, tipping pan to cover bottom of pan completely with batter. Cook until edges start to brown, turn over and cook until lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side.)
Crepes can be made day ahead or even frozen between sheets of waxed paper and frozen. Makes 18.

Strawberry filling: I just sliced a couple of pounds of berries and added a little sugar- about ½ cup- a tablespoon of vanilla and a healthy dash of cinnamon.
When filling the crepes I spooned some berries down the center of the crepe and added some whipped cream. Folded over, topped with a few berries and another bit of whipped cream.

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I never met a shortbread cookie I didn’t like. These are no exception.  With the addition of cocoa, you end up with a cookie that has the traditional delicate texture of shortbread, with the added bonus of a rich, chocolate flavor.

They are great just plain, dusted with powdered sugar or, my favorite way, brushed with a little melted bittersweet chocolate.

Simple, tasty and a nice treat for the chocolate lovers you love.

Chocolate Shortbread

1 c. butter, room temperature

3/4 c. sugar

2 c. flour

1/3 c. cocoa

1/4 t. salt

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Beat together butter and sugar until well blended. Mix together dry ingredients and slowly beat into butter mixture, stirring it in at the end. Roll out dough about 1/4 inch thick and cut out with cookie cutters. Re-roll scraps and cut out the remaining dough. Place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees until cookies are firm around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.  Melt chocolate and dip cookies in it or use chocolate to hold 2 cookies together. You can also use a buttercream frosting to make them sandwich cookies. Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on the size.

Chocolate Mousse Cake- Gluten Free

Chocolate Mousse Cake

If you are looking for a dessert for your Valentine, you might want to make this cake. The cake is made without any flour and trust me, you will never miss it.

This is a dessert everyone seems to love whenever I make it. This is  also a great dessert option for those who can’t tolerate gluten. The texture is dense, but not heavy. With only 6 ingredients, it is also pretty simple to make.  While it can be baked in any cake pan, I chose a heart shaped pan this time.

Once baked and cooled, the cake can be served as is, or garnished with any number of things. Fresh berries are always a nice touch, or a light dusting of powdered sugar. Sometimes I’ll pipe some whipped cream around the edges.

Flour-less Chocolate Mousse Cake

½ c. each sugar and water
1 stick butter
12 oz. semi sweet chocolate
6 eggs
¼ c. dark rum or other liqueur

Butter an eight inch cake pan and line with parchment. In saucepan heat together water and sugar until they boil. Stir in butter and bring to boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Beat in eggs until smooth and stir in rum. Pour batter into prepared pan and place pan in a roasting pan. Pour boiling water into roaster to come up sides of pan 1 inch. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool, invert onto plate.
Serve cake topped with whipped cream and decorate with raspberries, other fresh fruit or even toasted nuts. Dense and rich, this cake serves 8-10.

Finished with powdered sugar and chocolate whipped cream

Finished with powdered sugar and chocolate whipped cream

Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

A friend shared this recipe recently, and I was intrigued. I had to try these cookies. The filling for these traditional Jewish cookies is inspired by the filling used in cannoli.

I made a few changes from the recipe he shared, and was very happy with how they turned out.

The dough, which contains no sugar, has a wonderful, pastry-like texture. It pairs up well with the filling. The drizzle of chocolate is a perfect finish for them.

They aren’t a gooey, overly sweet cookie, which I really like.

They pair up nicely with tea or coffee. I confess,  I had a couple for breakfast with my morning tea. I would definitely make these again.

Thanks, Jared, for sharing this recipe.

Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

Filling:

¼ c. ricotta cheese

5 oz. cream cheese

½ c. powdered sugar

1 t. cinnamon

½ c. mini chocolate chips

Dough:

½ c. (1 stick) butter, softened

3 oz. cream cheese

½ c. half and half or milk

1 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

2½ c. flour

Topping:

1 egg white

2 T. water

½ c. chocolate chips

Powdered sugar, optional

Prepare the filling. Beat together the ricotta and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the milk and cinnamon, then stir in the chips. Chill until ready to use. Make the dough by mixing the cream cheese and butter together. Add the milk, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. Stir in the flour until a stiff dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, or put in a bag and chill at least an hour – or up to a couple of days – before proceeding. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a little less than ¼ – inch thickness. Cut dough out into 2-3 inch circles. Place a scant teaspoon of filling in middle of each dough circle. Combine the egg white with water and beat together. Brush a little of the egg white mixture over the edges of the dough circle. Fold the dough up in thirds towards the center, pinching the edges to seal. They should look like little three-corner hats. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the scraps. Brush folded cookies with a little more of the egg white mixture. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake in a 375-degree- oven for 15 minutes, or until golden on the bottom. Remove to cooling rack. Once cooled, melt the chocolate chips and drizzle over the cookies. You can top with some powdered sugar, if you like. Makes 2½-3 dozen.

Chocolate Lover’s Waffles

Chocolate Waffles

These waffles can make a great start to Valentine’s Day. Chocolate for breakfast? Why not? They also make a wonderful dessert.

The waffle batter has cocoa in it, for the chocolate flavor, but I added some cinnamon and nutmeg for a little spice. The flavor is wonderful.

Top them with whatever you like. For breakfast, warm maple syrup or a dusting of powdered sugar work well.

For dessert, I enjoy topping them with whipped cream and berries. You can also top with a scoop of ice cream and hot fudge.  If you like, add some chocolate chips to the batter for a stronger chocolate taste.

Chocolate Waffles

 2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled

1 t. vanilla

1 c. buttermilk

1 c. flour

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. cocoa

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 each baking powder and baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1/4 t. nutmeg

Beat first three ingredients until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. Stir in milk. Beat in dry ingredients just until blended. Bake until waffles are cooked through. Makes 4 cups batter. Serve with whipped butter or sour cream and fresh fruit. I like them just dusted with powdered sugar, too.

Red Onion Relish

Red Onion Relish

We made this recipe in a winter salad class the other night. I love the tart flavor and bright color it adds to my food. This relish is a great topper for sandwiches, but can be used for a whole lot more.

The onions can be served with cheese and crackers for an easy appetizer. You can add some to salads, and the liquid can be combined with a little oil for a simple salad dressing. In class, we added some to a zucchini “noodle” salad. Sometimes I just like to serve it as a side dish.

I even had some with my scrambled eggs for breakfast. After you cook it, you just ladled into jars, cool it down, and store it the fridge. It will keep for weeks and weeks.

Red Onion Relish

4-5 medium red onions, peeled and sliced thin
2 c. red wine vinegar
1½ water
1 c. sugar- or to taste
2 T. salt
1 T. mustard seed
1 T. celery seed
1 t. fennel seeds, optional
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick- 4 inch
4 whole cloves
Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Cool and place in jars, then store in the fridge. Use as a sandwich topper, salad addition, appetizer with cheese and crackers. You can also use the liquid as the base for a salad dressings, with the addition of some oil. Keeps for weeks in the fridge. Makes 5 cups.