Pecan Pie Tarts

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The thing about pecan pie…20131028-214954.jpg

Everybody likes that sweetness, but you can only take so many bites of it before you overwhelm your palette. That’s why when I saw Hungry Girl‘s recipe for mini Pecan Pies, I thought “Of course!” Bite-sized is better for this dessert.

I’ve done quite a few mini pies though, and for this one I wanted to try more of a tart/ pinafore bite. So I chose a different phyllo dough, and I’m glad that I did.

Ingredients20131028-214906.jpg

1 package phyllo dough pies (or crust if you want to shape your own)

1/3 cup pecans, chopped

2 T brown sugar

1.5 T coconut oil

1/2 packet stevia

1/2 t vanilla extract

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dash of cinnamon

Directions

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep your dough as you like, i.e. if you bought the mini pie crusts, assemble those. Place in preheated oven until slightly golden brown (about 5 minutes).

-In a pan, drop in nuts and oil, making sure the nuts are coated well. Then add the remaining ingredients. Turn over until nice, sweet and crunchy sugar layer forms.20131028-214942.jpg

-Assemble the tarts by spooning your nut mixture into the centers of the tarts, filling to the top. Return to oven and bake another 5-8 minutes or until toasted and golden brown. Serve warm if you can, with whipped cream or mint garnish, if you like.

Other Fall Food Recipes from CC:
Yam’O’Lanterns

Pumpkin Chili

Mini Pumpkin Pies for One

 

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Pumpkin-Parsley Pizza Pie

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When my friend Amelia mentioned her pumpkin pizza in a Facebook post, I was perplexed. 20131029-203319.jpg

Pumpkin puree for sauce? Pumpkin pulp as a topping? Can that really taste good?

Yes. I’m always surprised when sweet-savory combinations work so well. I’m not sure why I always forget this little culinary truism, but I’m always pleasantly reminded.

Pumpkin as a topping, and a sauce that’s part pumpkin, part marina is oh so sweet, and it gets an herb-y fresh kick from our good friend parsley. I mean, really good. If you live pumpkin, you really should try this pairing.

And where’d I get the “pumpkin pulp”? The jack’o’lantern I carved all by myself (first time!) this year.20131029-203437.jpg

Ingredients

Dough

1 t honey or agave nectar

1/4 of a yeast packet

1/4 + 3 T whole wheat flour

1 T rolled oats

1 t cornmeal

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Seasonings: garlic, basil, oregano

Topping

2 T slice pumpkin pulp

1 T tomato sauce

1 T pumpkin puree

3 T fresh, shredded Mozzarella

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Crushed red pepper

Directions

Dough:

-In a bowl, dissolve sweetener and yeast in 2.5 T hot water. Let stand for about five minutes.

-Add flour and salt to the yeast mixture and stir ’til a soft dough forms. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

-Place in bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top. Let rise ’til double in size, about 30 minutes.

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.20131029-203335.jpg

-Punch down and work in seasonings. Roll into a circle or square shape. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and begin topping process.

Topping:

-In a small dish, mix the 1 T marinara and 1 T pumpkin puree to make the suance. Rub sauce evenly over the dough in a thin layer, and then sprinkle cheese on, too. Arrange pumpkin pulp evenly on top. Sprinkle parsley on top.

-Place back in oven for about 5 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Slice and serve warm.

Pizza Muffins

Thai Flatbread Pizzas

Zucchini ‘zas

Yam’O’Lanterns!

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The one time I tried to carve a pumpkin by myself, I found out it was hard. Scraping and scratching out the stringy insides took forever; carefully carving the thick pumpkin walls took longer.20131019-115459.jpg

Patience: a virtue I’ve never known well and can’t summon for the art of pumpkin carving.

But I can make meals FAST! Thats what I’m good at. I’ve been eating a lot of fast meals recently, to my regret, because this first semester in my PhD program at TCU has been full of studying, events, making new friends, studying, writing everyday, all the time, and studying some more. I’ve gotten good at having some standby ingredients on hand all the time so when I am home I get a wholesome, nutritional meal with “real” ingredients, but I’ll admit that my creative cookery has fallen way by the wayside.20131019-115446.jpg

One of the ingredients I always have on hand are sweet potatoes–been eating them like a fiend! I’ve found that if you microwave the sweet potato fries for a bit, then crisp them up in the oven, things go much, much faster.

Imagine my delight when I saw Apronstring’s Yam’O’Lanterns recipe. A few more minutes added to my sweet potato prep gave me a fun food-craft to try on the fly. Here’s my make-it-fast variation of this festive fall food.

Ingredients

1-8 oz. sweet potato

cooking spray

optional: sea salt

Directions20131019-115512.jpg

-Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

-Using a sharp knife, slice your sweet potato into rounds as you usually might (mine were about 1/5″ thick). Then, use a sharp paring knife to carve in the faces you like. When ready, transfer to a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

-After that, transfer to prepared sheet. Spritz on some cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt or other seasonings you like (rosemary would be a delicious one to use for these). Toss them up a bit for good coverage and pop in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, longer if you made thicker slices. Remove when cooked all the way through and crispy around all the edges.

Sweet Potato Hash + Egg

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If you love fun food like I do.IMG_1293

If you adore anything avian (birds, nests, eggs).

If you love comfort food.

You’ll love this.

Sweet potato hash gets a salty-sweet kick with a little onion salt and an egg bakes in the center for a most delicious pairing that would be fun to make with kids.

Or even, fun for a twenty-something gal who likes breakfast for dinner every now and then.

If you think it’s hard to make, think again. Nothing I make is very challenging, really. I have limited time and limited patience most nights, like most people. So I try to cook fast, but well. IMG_1296

So don’t let a spud and a bird’s egg scare you. Try this recipe. You can even try it in the microwave.

Ingredients

1-6 or 7 oz. sweet potato

1 egg

dash of onion salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a ramekin. Set aside.IMG_1283

Cut your potato into four pieces. Heat for 30 seconds to soften a tad. Then take to the scraper and begin making hash with your shredder. You could process in a food processor, but you won’t get hash shreds, really.

Once your shreds are ready, put them in the ramekin. Shape a little hole in the center for the egg. Crack it and drop it in the center. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the egg and shreds are fully cooked.

Alternatively, if you want to try this in the microwave–which I also did once because I really didn’t have any patience that night–microwave your shreds in the ramekin for 3 minutes. Add in the egg as you would if you were baking, and microwave for another 1-2 minutes, being careful to listen for overheating or that unwelcome yolk-pop sound.IMG_1295

Sprinkle with a little pepper, hot sauce, or whatever else you like on your eggs and potatoes, and enjoy!

Easy, Fast Apple Pie Snacks

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You know me. I love fun food. If it’s even a tad creative, then I have to try it.SAM_5304

This one had been sitting on my Pinterest.com CC To-Do List board for quite some time. And once the semester had ended–my tortilla overload still under way–I decided to adapt the recipe I’d found online from Better Cookiesreplacing regular dough with, you guessd it, whole-wheat tortillas.

Ain’t nothing punnier, or truer than what I’m about to write: This quick and easy snack is now the apple of my eye. I’m not kidding. I say at this at the risk of not sounding very “American,” but the truth is that I kind of hate apple pie. Hold your fire. Be sympathetic. But I like my apples cool and crisp, not baked and spicy.SAM_5306

Not sure why I enjoyed this recipe so much, not yet at least. It could be that I left the apples a bit thicker in terms of slicing. It could be that I wasn’t overloaded with apple mush, like most apple pies. Or it could just be that it was so easy to make and kind of fun. How can you go wrong?

Ingredients
1/2 an apple
1 whole-wheat tortillaSAM_5286
1 t cinnamon
dash of stevia or 1 T honey

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.SAM_5298 -Prepare apple by slicing lengthwise. You can make your slices as thin as you like for more, or thicker for fewer. Know too that if you go thicker, your apple pie snacks will come out less warm and gooey like apple pie, more crisp and fresh (just how I wanted mine).
-Next, prep apples in seasonings. If you’re using the cinnamon-stevia blend, mix those two together and toss apple slices in those until coated. If you’re going the honey route, then still toss slices in cinnamon and then drizzle honey over the top.
-Cut tortilla into strips. Roll one or more strips around each apple slice. Tuck ends of strip on bottom side or into the side of the wrap so they don’t unfurl.
-Transfer to prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little more seasoning or honey if desired and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and somewhat soft.
-Serve warm, right out of the oven, and with my healthified cream cheese dip, if you like.SAM_5306

Enjoy!

MexiCali Burrito Bowl

 

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Get your burrito fix! Get it on the half shell!SAM_5105

 

No, no oysters in this burrito recipe, but it’s innovative enough to make onlooking eaters shellfish. (HIMYM reference. Had to go there.)

Some of the recipe pins on Pinterest.com are–in my humble opinion–the best development for crafty cookers since the cake pop revolution a few years back. And this recipe is much easier to make, even easier than cake pops!SAM_5095

Gather your favorite burrito fillings and let’s get started. Oh, and you needn’t set aside much time. It really doesn’t take long.

Ingredients

one delicious, whole-wheat burrito tortilla

cooking spray

DirectionsSAM_5114

Find a small broil-safe dish that you can tuck your burrito into to achieve the shape you desire, i.e. smaller dishes for a smaller burrito bowl with more folds or larger dishes for wider shell with less folds.

Prepare the dish by lightly coating with cooking spray. Preheat broilers. When broilers are ready, fold the burrito into your greased dish. Place in oven for 1-2 minutes to get the bottom crispy. Then add in your filling ingredients of choice. Broil another 2-3 minutes or until edges are crispier and browned.SAM_5116

Serve warm.

By the way, this burrito bowl could also function nicely as a crunchy taco-salad holder or a fun, visually-interesting bowl for entertaining. You could impress guests for some time with this trick.

I even wonder if this would work well as a soup bowl? Okay, you probably don’t want to try that as a freestanding bowl, but like a breadbowl from Panera, it could be  a nice tear-and-peel twist on soup service.

Quick-Fix Angel Food Cake

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Do you every just want an easy dessert? A quick dessert? And ideally, a healthy dessert?

I can help.

I’ve introduced you to my Instant Brownie Trick.This one’s similar, but features angel food cake. I love angel food cake because it’s one of the few packaged cake mixes you can find in stores that isn’t made with hydrogenated oils. I tell people to avoid these modified fats at all costs. Yes, I would like this dessert trick so much better if it was less refined, too, but in moderation–and for the sake of being easy–I like it just fine.SAM_4956

So here’s how easy it is to make: Pick a safe, trans-fat free cake mix (make sure it says 0g Trans Fats AND no hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list), determine an appropriate portions size, divide and portion accordingly, prepare as directed, only reducing bake times and temperatures if necessary.

So for example, if a box of angel food cake gives 12 servings, determine how many ounces are in each serving by dividing the ounces written on the front of the package by 12. Use a measuring cup or spoon that lists ounces on side, if possible. Likewise, if the recipe calls for 3/4 cup of water, you would divide that by 12, too, making it so that you need only give 1 T of water instead of 12 (16 T = 1 cup).SAM_4958

Okay, to do this you obviously need some knowledge (or research skills) to figure out conversions. This could thwart the purpose of quick and easy baking, yes, but every good baker knows his or her conversion rates. I recommend learning them. It can only help, right? And if you like math, it’s kind of fun.

You can bake in the oven as directed, but I’d recommend dropping the baking temperature a few degrees and, of course, cut the baking time down by at least a third of the usual time. I actually made mine in the microwave, believe it or not. Just like my instant brownie, the finished product won’t be as moist as possible, but a minute and a half on high will make it as fast as possible, and it’ll still taste so sweet.

I topped mine with some fresh strawberries and a sprinkle of stevia. I’d love to hear other topping ideas though!

Indoors Cookie S’mores

It’s March, and by my standards, still a bit too chilly. But what about March has me excited? The prospect of summer to come and getting back outdoors.

A favorite outdoor treat of mine is the good old-fashioned s’more. Does anyone really dislike the s’more? If so, I’d like to meet them and hear the reasons why.

If you follow this blog, you know I’ve tried s’mores 101 different ways: frozen, baked, as whoopie pies, etc. But here’s just one more for the adventurous sweet tooth who’s not quite ready to make one while camping, but would love to enjoy a “healthified” version while wondering the great indoors.

Ingredients

1 graham cracker sheet (I like Back to Nature’s version)

1 mini bar of Hershey’s chocolate (dark chocolate preferred)

3 T white-whole wheat or spelt flour

1/2 T stevia

dash of cinnamon and baking soda

optional: dash of salt and brown sugar (I omitted and thought they tasted just fine)

2 T nondairy milk

1 t coconut oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Break graham cracker sheet into two pieces and place on cookie sheet. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients, then mix in milk and oil ’til well blended. If you have the time, refrigerate for a few minutes.

Place a dollop of the cookie batter on each graham cracker. You may have enough leftover for one good-sized sugar cookie, too. Bake for about 6-7 minutes or until the cookie dough is baked to your liking.

I can tell you that I let mine underbake a bit. I like this better because it then tastes gooey-er, like a traditional s’more, and since there aren’t any eggs required you don’t have to worry about food poisoning.

Also, you may want to bake your chocolate in the oven, or press into warm cookies as they come out. Again, either way works, it’s just a matter of personal preference. I’ve tried both and enjoyed both results.

Instant Deep-Dish Oatmeal Cookie

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A lot of you say you read my recipes but never actually try them because it looks like they take too long to make. I often get told, “Yes, that sounds healthy and delicious, but why would I want to make just one? I’d make a whole batch instead… I don’t like getting all those ingredients for one little treat… Too much work… I’m tired…”SAM_4890

I’m not going to say those are excuses in my book, but I will give you a no-excuses recipe I think you’ll like. But first, a few reasons:

1. Do it for your bank account! Single servings save you money.

2. Do it because few leftovers are ever as good as their original selves.

3. Do it to save resources. How much of the materials and ingredients used to make multiple-serving recipes just end up stale and in the trash?SAM_4483

4. Do it for portion control. The one Americans understand the least.

5. Do it because it’s fun! I love to experiment with cooking/ baking, and single-serving recipes let me try lots of new types of cuisine. Some fail. Some are delicious.

On to the super simple deep-dish cookie…

Ready for this?

IngredientsSAM_4493

1 packet of oatmeal

1-2 T almond milk (or regular milk or yogurt)

optional: dash of baking powder, vanilla

and whatever mix-ins you like (I like cinnamon + peanut butter, and chocolate chips on top)

Directions

Empty out the oatmeal into a microwave-safe dish. Mix in milk or other substitute (you should add in about half of whatever the oatmeal directions specify so it’s not runny.SAM_4888

Mix well, but again, make sure it stays firm and wet, not soupy. If you’re not feeling too lazy, you can add in the dash of baking powder and vanilla. Top with whatever mix-ins you like. Microwave as directed. If not completely firmed up like a cookie, press sides together with the side of a spoon and microwave a tad longer or pop it into the broiler for a crispier finish.

It’s essentially like some of my baked oatmeal recipes and it’s delicious.

So, no excuses! Try it. I dare your lazy bones… 😉

Mini Spice Cake

Most people start baking spice cakes later in the season, closer to Christmas, but I love to indulge this seasonal cake as soon as possible. Maybe that’s because spice cake reminds me of my mom. We both love this kind … Continue reading