Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Chocolate cupcakes with strawberry buttercreamDespite the frigid middle of this week (go home, April; you’re drunk), I am still so excited that it is finally spring! To celebrate spring and hopefully encourage continued sunshine, I made these scrumptious birthday cupcakes. To me, moist chocolate cake is the absolute BEST kind of cake, and strawberry buttercream made with fresh strawberry puree just shouts spring!

To make these cupcakes I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, and adapted this recipe for strawberry buttercream to fit my batch of cupcakes. One of the reasons this cake recipe has earned the spot as my favorite for cupcakes is because it doesn’t call for coffee! The many, many chocolate recipes that call for coffee encourage non-coffee drinkers to still use them because you can’t taste the coffee flavor. Well, I have nothing against including coffee in my cake batter, but since I don’t drink coffee, I never have it at home! This lovely recipe doesn’t call for coffee, and yields delightful, moist, rich chocolate cupcakes. Continue reading

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Healthy Single Serve, Deep Dish, Salted, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie

ck6That’s quite a long title, but doesn’t it sound like a dream? A (mostly) healthy, deep dish, glorious chocolate chip cookie. Well, thanks to amazing 18 year old! Izy over at Top With Cinnamon, this glorious dream is actually a reality!

After my decadent duck dinner last Friday, I knew I wanted something equally delicious and equally as easy to make for dessert. This deep dish cookie hit the spot. It’s sooo good, so easy, and (dare I say) guilt-free! There’s coconut oil in place of butter, coconut sugar and honey in place of white sugar, whole wheat flour, and dark chocolate chunks full of antioxidants. That’s the kind of dessert you always want in your arsenal! Plus, the combination of sea salt and dark chocolate is one made in dessert heaven. Continue reading

Sunbutter Chocolate Bites | A legal sweet treat

20140120-143406.jpgLately, I have been on the quest for healthy alternatives to snacks, especially dessert. But it’s extremely hard to find desserts that taste good and are safe for my allergies! Fortunately, finding safe chocolate opened up the door for a lot of desserts, but making healthy options has eluded me for quite some time. Finally, I stumbled upon an awesome healthy food blog called Kellie’s Food to Glow! Among other healthy, delicious recipes, I found one for Chocolate Almond Butter Bites.

This little goodie is definitely a sweet treat, but uses healthy ingredients. The only sweetener is chopped dates, the dark chocolate provides antioxidants, and the protein-rich nut butter helps you feel satisfied with just one! And although I cannot have nut butter, sunflower seed butter worked perfectly in this recipe.

I just love taking the little mini muffin papers out of the refrigerator and unwrapping these delights. They’re the perfect size to satiate my sweet tooth, but not feel as though I’m overindulging! They do require a little work to get the chocolate right, but it is well worth the effort. I’ve also included quite a few pictures below to guide you through!

I hope you enjoy!

Sunbutter Chocolate Bites

  • Servings: 25
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 c. SoyFree Sales semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 chopped dates
1/4 c. SunButter (or other nut or seed butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. sea salt

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, stirring consistently. While the chocolate is melting, separate and arrange your mini muffins papers on a baking sheet. When the chocolate is melted and stirred smooth, drop about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate into each cup.

20140120-143256.jpgUsing your spoon, spread the chocolate around the bottom of the paper and gently push it up the sides. Place in the refrigerator or freezer to harden, about 15 minutes.

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While your chocolate is cooling, add dates, sunflower seed butter, vanilla, and salt to a food processor. Process until all ingredients are blended and have formed a “dough.” When your chocolate is cool, remove the baking sheet from the fridge. Roll little balls of about 1 tsp. of dough and gently press into each chocolate cup.

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Reheat remaining chocolate over double boiler if necessary, and spoon a small amount over the sunflower seed butter filling. Use your spoon to push the chocolate to the edges of the paper.

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Set in the refrigerator or freezer again to harden for about 15 minutes. When they’re all done, they should look like this!

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Store in the fridge, and when you’re ready to eat, unwrap a candy and enjoy!

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What kinds of healthy treats do you like to indulge in?

Homemade Applesauce (no sugar added)

20140120-140146.jpgOn my trip to the farmer’s market this weekend, I saw a stand with baskets and baskets of gorgeous apples. As I work to eat healthier snacks, I knew that making my homemade applesauce again would give me an easy, healthy, packable snack option. And the best thing about farmer’s markets is that you can talk with the vendors about the practices behind their produce. I was thrilled to find that this seller’s apples are low spray, so much so that I didn’t react to the slice of apple she gave me to taste! Because I react to some spray or pesticide used on apples, I haven’t tasted a fresh apple in about 8 years! (I’ve never had a problem when they’re cooked.) It was truly a glorious moment! Anyway, I’m getting off track! I was able to collect quite a few of those pretty beauties and take them home for some delicious, nutritious applesauce.

It’s important to remember when you’re selecting apples for your applesauce- don’t just get the ones you like to snack on. When I could eat fresh apples, I loved the sweet-tartness of Pink Lady apples. However, when I make applesauce, I want it to be sweeter, and found Pink Lady applesauce wanted sugar. In order to make this as healthy and naturally delicious as possible, select naturally sweeter apples like Fuji or Gala. No added sweetener necessary!

You can peel your apples if you prefer an even, smooth applesauce, or leave the peel on for easier prep, added nutrients, and a little texture. Enjoy this applesauce with yogurt, granola, as a healthy substitute for butter in baking, or packed in small Tupperware bowls for breakfast or snacks throughout the week!

Homemade Applesauce

  • Servings: about 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 c. cubed apples (I used a mixture of Fuji and Honeycrisp)
1 1/2 c. water
1 tbl. lemon juice
1 tbl. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large pot, add your chopped apples, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When the apples have come to a boil, place a lid on the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook the apples for 25-30 minutes.

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When the apples are soft, add the cinnamon and ground cloves. Stir to coat evenly and let the apples cool a bit before blending.

In two batches, add the apple mixture to your blender and blend until you have reached the desired consistency. Add water if desired to reach the thickness that you prefer.

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Serve and enjoy, or store for later deliciousness! Keep in mind, applesauce freezes really well!

How do you like to enjoy applesauce?

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Hedonist Hot Chocolate

20140104-123045.jpgToday is one of those cozy winter mornings. I love winter mornings where it’s sunny enough to look gorgeous outside, but cold enough for me to stay wrapped up on the couch in a fuzzy blanket. This morning I decided to make Poached Eggs and Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce for breakfast, and curl up after with a nice mug of hot chocolate and Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Netflix. What better way to spend a Saturday morning?!

Before you attempt this I’ve got to tell you: to me, the only right hot chocolate is rich hot chocolate. I don’t want a cup of warmed up chocolate milk; I want a creamy, decadent drink that makes me giggle with satisfaction into my mug. I want to feel like the contents of my cup contain everything that is good and holy about warm winter drinks. That is the kind of hot chocolate that this is.

If you don’t drink all the hot chocolate this recipe makes, you can still make the full recipe (or more) and store it in the refrigerator for a week. Warm each serving slowly when you want more during the week.

How do you like to spend cozy winter mornings?

Homemade Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 c. cream
1 c. milk
1/4 c. Domino sugar
1/2 tsp. homemade vanilla
1/8 c. Soy Free Sales semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1/4 c. cocoa
sprinkle of cinnamon

Over medium-low heat, heat the milk, cream, vanilla, and sugar, stirring constantly. When the sugar has dissolved and the milk is steaming, remove the pan from heat and add the cocoa, chocolate chips, and cinnamon.

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Stir until thoroughly combined, strain, and serve. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if you like and enjoy!

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*I am not being compensated in any way for my endorsement of Soy Free Sales chocolate products. I was so excited (after a LONG search) to find chocolate chips that are both corn-free and soy-free! They also have soy-free, corn-free white chocolate chips! Anyone who needs to avoid soy and corn and loves chocolate should know about this glorious find.

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Homemade Apple Butter

apple butter w.spoon(rd) Merry Christmas to all of you!!! Thank you so much for joining me on this StrictlyDelicious journey! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday with your loved ones and that you enjoy today’s recipe: Homemade Apple Butter. It is perfect for this holiday season. 🙂

Although I’ve only tasted apple butter once before, I just knew making it homemade would be the perfect final element to my Christmas homemade goodie baskets. Along with homemade vanilla, citrus salt, and rosemary salt, this smooth apple butter made oh-so-sweet gifts. This was my first canning experience, but it really is as simple and addicting as they say.

Once I made this apple butter, I couldn’t stop eating it! It’s so creamy and flavorful and delicious. I paired it with everything I could, including a spoon. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as mine!

Homemade Apple Butter

  • Servings: 8 1/2 pints
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 1/2 lbs. apples (I used a combination of unwaxed Fiji and local Gala apples)
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 tbl. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt

After washing, peel, core, and slice all of the apples. I cut mine into thin slices, but I’m sure you could cut them any way. Put the slices into your crockpot dish.

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Combine the sugar, spices, and salt in a bowl, and pour over the apples. Stir the apple mixture with a spoon to coat all slices until evenly covered.

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Put the lid loosely on the top of your crockpot dish. By this I mean do not latch it closed as you usually would. I put my lid on a little crooked, leaving space on each side between the lid and the dish. This will allow the apples to cook down. Set the crockpot on low and cook the apples for twelve hours. Whenever you walk past the pot, stir the apples to recoat in the spices and liquid.

After twelve hours, add the apples to a blender and blend until smooth. You will need to do this in batches about 1-2 cups of apples at a time. Add a tiny amount of water if needed to help your blender. (You could also execute this step with an immersion blender.)

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If desired, pour the apple butter into a pot and cook on low heat on the stove to thicken it. Stir consistently. This will not take much time at all, and it is easy to burn the apple butter, so do not walk away!

Once it has reached the desired thickness, it is ready to store. You can store it in a lidded container in the fridge for up to three weeks, or can it for gifts and to store for up to two years. (For canning pints and half pints: fill to 1/2 in. below the rim, seal, and process for 15 minutes.)

Enjoy, and have a blessed holiday!

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Note: I made this before I learned of my allergy to white potatoes. Next time I’ll use Ketel One or Ciroc!

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I was surprised to find out that most store bought vanilla contains multiple corn ingredients. Fortunately, it was already my desire to make homemade vanilla for Christmas gifts, so I had already been researching how to do so! All I needed to do to make sure that I was able to enjoy it too was to make sure that my recipe was corn free.

Like most of my recipes, making your own vanilla is SUPER easy and will yield a product 100x more delicious than what you buy in stores. Better still, you can rest assured because you know every ingredient that went into it!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • Servings: 10 4. oz bottles*
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/4 lb. vanilla beans (I used Madagascar Bourbon beans, and found the best price at Olive Nation)
1 Liter of Chopin vodka (can also use Ciroc)

Cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise and then in half the other way (so cut them in half vertically and horizontally). Put the equivalent of three whole vanilla beans in each 4 oz. bottle and pour enough vodka over the beans to cover them. Cap and shake the bottles vigorously, then store in a cool, dark area (like the back of your pantry) for 2-6 months. Of course, the longer you store it, the stronger the flavor will be.

Note: A great thing about making homemade vanilla is you can just keep pouring vodka over the vanilla beans as you use the vanilla and the one bottle will last you about 3 years! Just make sure you keep the beans covered with liquor at all times.

*Any bottles used to store vanilla should NOT be clear as the light that gets into the bottle will harm the vanilla. I used amber bottles from Specialty Bottle when making mine.

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