Mini Lemon Fig Cakes

I LOVE figs. It’s getting to be that time of year again where figs glorify the food blogs and show their face on all the cooking shows. Which obviously makes my fig obsession even more problematic. With any luck, Grant and I will get a container or two in our Bountiful Basket on a good week – I can’t seem to find them in the grocery stores around here.

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With all the house fixing recently, I haven’t gotten to do a lot of things I normally enjoy (e.g. bake, read, make art, etc.) so I was really glad to get the excuse to bake something when we got figs and lemons in our basket last week. I mean, no, you don’t have to bake something in order to consume figs, but they make such delectable confections that how could I not??

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These little cakes are slightly sweet but not overpowering. Lucky for you (and me, and baby in me), I didn’t use any processed sugars but rather agave nectar, which is always a nice alternative for baking. Likewise, there’s whole wheat flour in there, greek yogurt, and very little fat. It’s always nice eating something delicious that doesn’t make you feel guilty for scarfing down more than one. In fact, I call these cakes, but they would be perfectly acceptable for breakfast as well as dessert. Your pick.

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Mosey thought they smelled so good that she tried to sneak a taste while I was photographing them. Luckily I caught her before any damage was done! Bunnies can have figs, but they aren’t supposed to eat wheat products. Or sugar. Sorry, Bun.

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Mini Lemon Fig Cakes

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 pound fresh black mission figs
Zest and juice of 2 small lemon
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 tbsp canola oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine agave nectar, greek yogurt, canola oil, vanilla, eggs, and lemon juice. Stir until well combined, and then add to the dry mixture.
  3. Mix ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Squish three of the figs until it forms a paste and then fold into the batter along with the lemon zest.
  4. Slice the remaining figs into four sections each (making your slices long, not quartered). Spray a muffin tin with oil and fill with batter about half way full. Place one fig slice on top of each cup, pressing slightly (but not too hard! You’ll want to see them once the cakes have been baked). If desired, sprinkle with a little sugar.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Makes about 16 mini cakes.

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Chocolate Coconut Banana Energy Bites

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I’m going to be honest with you: I haven’t cooked or baked anything in the last seven weeks or so. This first-trimester-of-pregnancy thing is really hitting me hard in the food department. AKA: essentially every food I’ve ever loved before makes me want to vomit. Luckily my wonderful husband has been picking up the slack and doing some cooking around here (otherwise he would starve LOL).

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So needless to say, this energy bite recipe has actually been sitting in limbo for quite a while, just waiting to be shared. I made a batch a few months ago and they were delicious, so the time has come to impart my knowledge on you. Maybe someone else will get pleasure out of making them, since I’m definitely not right now. 😛

IMG_1104Chocolate Coconut Banana Energy Bites

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups oats
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp chocolate protein powder (or cocoa powder if you don’t have protein powder)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 banana
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp flour
2 to 3 tbsp water (if necessary)

METHOD:

1. In a large bowl, mix together oats, salt, protein powder, coconut, and flour. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, add banana, honey, and coconut oil (melted, if necessary). Process until smooth.

3. Pour the liquid mixture into the oat mixture and stir until all oats are incorporated. If the mixture is too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time.

4. Once fully mixed, roll mixture into balls, using about a tablespoon of your dough per ball. These will last up to two weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Healthy Banana Cookies

IMG_2191YUM! There’s nothing quite like a healthy cookie (the fluffy, cakey kind that I like), and so I must share with you these healthy banana cookies!

IMG_2170I made a chocolate version of these cookies for Grant a few weeks ago and they were delectable (I’ll probably post that recipe eventually as well), but obviously with the pounds of chocolate, they were not quite as healthy as the chocolate-free variety. As an ever ferocious advocate for healthy foods, I just had to make them healthier.

IMG_2198These cookies are great because you can eat them for dessert or breakfast (they have oats, guys) or a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. Versatile cookies are wonderful!

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INGREDIENTS:

2 cups processed oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 medium bananas
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup honey
3 tbsp coconut oil

METHOD:

1. Combine processed oats, flour, protein powder, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine bananas, greek yogurt, honey, and coconut oil. Process until smooth.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Place dollops of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Press down onto the dough so it is slightly flat.

4. Bake cookies in a preheated 350 oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.

5. Enjoy!

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Vanilla Green Tea Energy Bites (With Kale) and Spring Break Adventures

IMG_1895This past week was Spring Break for Grant, which – perk of being a teacher’s wife – means Spring Break for me too! Some things never get old, and Spring Break is one of those things. It’s nice taking a little break from life sometimes, even if it means I’m behind in everything now.

spring breakFor the first part of break Grant and I went to Billings, Montana on a little weekend getaway. We had a great time thrifting and eating good food and riding our bikes along a cliff edge. Then, on Monday my brother and his beautiful wife came to visit us in the Bighorns! Leslie and Andrew have been married since January and live in Texas. They decided to make a loooong road trip to come see us, stopping along the way at places like Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Tetons. It is nice living in a part of the country that can be a road trip destination – Wyoming is so beautiful and contains so much adventure, which makes it easier to convince people to come visit us! While they were here, we explored the Tongue River Canyon, journeyed to Shell Falls in the Bighorns, and visited the Badlands. It was a great time!

Andrew and some mountain goats
Andrew and some mountain goats
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Watching some bighorn sheep
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We saw LOTS of bighorn sheep

spring break 2So it was a fantastic week off, but now it’s time to get back to reality. If you are having a hard time getting back in the groove like me (especially when the sun is shining and everything outside is begging you to take a break) I have some energy bites to hopefully get you in the spirit of things again. My Vanilla Green Tea Energy bites are bursting with flavor and color and adventure, kind of like spring itself.

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And since energy bites are obviously the cure for everything……….

IMG_1902 IMG_1912Vanilla Green Tea Energy Bites

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups oats
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp chia
1/2 tsp salt
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 to 3 green tea bags, contents only
1 cup kale
4 tbsp honey
3 tbsp coconut oil

METHOD:

1. Mix oats, flour, chia, protein powder, salt, and the contents of your tea bags together in a large bowl.

2. Process your kale in a food processor until smooth. You may need to add water (one teaspoon at a time). Once kale is processed (it is okay if there are still some chunks), add honey and coconut oil and process together until smooth.

3. Pour the liquid mixture into the oat mixture and stir until all oats are incorporated. If the mixture is too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time. If too wet, add flour one tablespoon at a time.

4. Once fully mixed, roll mixture into balls, using about a tablespoon of your dough per ball. These will last up to two weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Lemon Lavender Pudding – With No Processed Sugar!!

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When I was a child I hated pudding. The thought of those pudding cups by the lunch meat in grocery stores still makes me shudder, and to this day I am very suspicious of pudding that anyone else has made. You see, Americans have a problem, and that problem is instant pudding. You know what I’m talking about – the kind that comes in a box and all you have to do is stir in some milk? Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, the kind you actually have to boil?

GOSH! GROSS! INSTANT PUDDING NEEDS TO BE BANNED FROM THE WORLD.

When I discovered my ability make pudding at home (which is an ability that everyone has, you just have to muddle through ages of social convention and societal pressures to find it), suddenly pudding became delicious again.

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Honestly, homemade pudding is probably one of the most simple and quick desserts you could make. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took more time to go to the grocery store and buy that stupid little box of sugar, preservatives, and who-knows-what-else than it would take to throw some milk, cornstarch, and flavor-of-choice into a sauce pan and boil. Not to mention, if you make homemade pudding, you have the freedom to make it soooo much healthier than anything you could find in the grocery store.

Such as this delicious Lemon Lavender Pudding – sweetened with agave nectar rather than white sugar.

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Lemon Lavender Pudding
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup lavender infused water (1 tsp of dried lavender soaked in water for about ten minutes, strained)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of lemon zest

METHOD:

1. Combine all ingredients except milk, lemon zest, and vanilla into a sauce pan. On medium heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.

2. When it starts to bubble, slowly add milk to the mixture, continuing to stir. Heat until the pudding has thickened to your liking.

3. Take off heat and stir in vanilla and lemon zest. Best served warm.

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It’s Pi(e) Day! Celebrate with this Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Truffle Pie

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Nothing says Happy Pi(e) Day like a Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Truffle Pie!

*Nerd moment* Today is actually Pi Day of the century, in case you weren’t aware. It’s 2015, so we are celebrating Pi Day on 3-14-15. And to be perfectly accurate, you should eat your pie at 9:26…3.1415926535……………………. *Nerd moment over*

Dessert in my house is generally chocolate because that’s what Grant prefers and I seldom eat dessert. However, there is the rare occasion that I crave something sweet, and in these moments all I want is something fresh and fruity (read lemon bars, strawberry shortcake, etc). This pie is the best of both world – fresh and fruity AND a chocolate lover’s delight – so it is the perfect pie with which to celebrate Pi(e) Day at the DeRocher household.

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Isn’t it funny how food is so strongly related to memories? I have this particular, lovely memory of helping my grandma make a fresh strawberry pie with a strawberry jello glaze. The pie not only impressed me because it was delicious, but also because it was the most beautiful pie I’d ever set eyes on. That memory of Grandma’s fresh strawberry pie is what inspired me to make this one. And since Grant loves chocolate – especially truffles – that was an obvious addition.

Despite the elegant appearance of this pie, it is actually incredible simple to make. It only requires five ingredients (five!) and the process of putting it together is easier than most desserts.

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Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Truffle Pie

INGREDIENTS:

3 quarts fresh strawberries, ends cut off
1 bag + 3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup apple jelly + 1 tsp water
Pie Crust

METHOD:

1. Prepare your pie crust. You can either use a store bought pie crust for this or make your own. (I personally use this easy Oil Pie Crust from King Arthur Flour for essentially every pie I make. It tastes better than store bought and contains no lard or shortening, which is a definite plus. I also substituted the 1 tsp sugar for 2 tsp agave nectar.) Place whatever pie crust you choose to use in a deep pie dish. Press against the sides and use a fork to crimp the edges. Bake the crust in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and flaky.

2. After the crust is baked, prepare the truffle layer. On a double broiler or in the microwave, melt one bag of chocolate chips. Once these are completely melted, stir in the whipping cream until completely incorporated and smooth. Spread the chocolate filling onto the bottom of the cool pie crust. Let cool in fridge for 15 to 20 minutes or until set.

3. While chocolate layer is setting, prepare the glaze. Place apple jelly and one teaspoon water in a sauce pan and heat on medium until jelly starts to bubble and there are no chunks. If the glaze seems too thick, add water a teaspoon at a time. However, you do not want the glaze too thin. Remove glaze from heat.

4. Now pile the strawberries onto the truffle layer. After you have as many strawberries on the pie as you want, drizzle the glaze over top the strawberries, making sure to cover the entire pie. Let this set for five minutes or so.

5. For the chocolate drizzle, merely melt the remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips in the microwave. If too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time and stir until smooth. Drizzle over the strawberries. Place in fridge for about an hour and serve with whipped cream.

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Easy Miniature Pies for Pi Day

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Since my husband is a math teacher it is basically a requirement that I make a big deal out of Pi Day. A few weeks ago, he informed me that one of his classes would be celebrating the holiday and requested that I make a pie for the occasion. Never one to back down on a baking challenge, I readily agreed. Then I thought, better than one plain pie would be a bunch of miniature pies! Because mini things are ALWAYS BETTER! Especially if I put some pi symbol cut-outs on them!

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And so my plan was born.

For the sake of expediency, I decided to use pre-made pie crust and canned pie filling. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but I wanted to keep the project simple since I had quite a few students to make mini pies for.

For 12 miniature pies, you’ll need:

  • 2 cans pie filling, your choice
  • 1 freezer pie crust, thawed
  • Egg white wash

Here’s how to do it.

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Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with oil. Lay out your pie crust on a large piece of parchment paper. If your muffin tin is 3 inches across, use a 4-inch circle cookie-cutter (or cup or tin, like I used) and cut out 12 circles. Press the crust into your muffin cups, smoothing out the bumps and going to the very top.

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Fill the muffins cups with your filling, almost to the top. Now prepare top crust layers.

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For a traditional double crust (with a pi symbol, of course!) use a three-inch round cookie cutter (or cup or tin) and cut out as many as you need. I alternated between the whole double crust layer and the simple pi symbol. You can also do a lattice layer, which is the same technique as on a normal-sized pie, but small. Make sure you press the top layer crust firmly into the bottom layer.

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Finally, wash the crusts lightly with a whipped egg white, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool before attempting to take out of the muffin tins.

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I was thrilled at how cute these little pies turned out, and they’re a quick and easy way to celebrate this nerdy holiday! It would be a fun project to do with little kids. I hope you enjoyed this DIY, and stay tuned for a delicious pie recipe coming your way tomorrow. With fresh ingredients this time. 😉

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Pina Colada Protein Bars

Because I’m sure my energy bite obsession is probably starting to annoy, I decided to shake things up a bit with with a batch of protein bars. Equally delicious and nutritious, these bars are still great for an on-the-go breakfast or a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. Maybe they’re not as cute, but they are rather more elegant, especially with that dusting of desiccated coconut on the top.

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Pina Colada is the flavor, and awe-inspiringly yummy is the result. They remind of me of tranquil afternoons spent cruising through the Caribbean and listening to seagulls squawk in the distance. And no, these do not contain rum. 😉

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I’ve got to say – I still think I like energy bites better. But it was nice to mix things up all the same.

Pina Colada Protein Bars

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups oats
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
2 tbsp chia
1 tsp salt
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 cup fresh or crushed pineapple
1 small banana
1/4 cup coconut
3 tbsp honey/agave
2 tbsp flour

METHOD:

1. In a food processor, process banana, pineapple, coconut, and honey until smooth.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, cooked quinoa, chia, salt, protein powder, and flour. Pour the pineapple banana mixture over the oats and stir until well-combined.

3. On a piece of parchment paper, roll out the oat mixture until about half an inch thick. Top with desiccated coconut. Cut into desired size.

4. Enjoy!

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Creamy Lemon Meringue Smoothie

I’ve got another lemon recipe for you, because apparently I am trying to channel my inner summer even though it’s only like 6 degrees outside. This smoothie is my attempt to capture the essence of a lemon meringue pie (the absolute best type of pie in the world, hands down) in a healthy, energizing drink. So this thing of magic is basically a pie in a cup, especially when garnished with some raw oatmeal. Of note, there is nothing actually meringue about it but, hey, it still works for me. 😉

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I have a smoothie almost everyday for lunch. Smoothies work great for me because I can whip them up really quick and then continue to work on my projects while eating. Furthermore, you can pack some really great nutrients into a homemade smoothie; I’ve recently been using vanilla protein powder, which keeps me sustained and energized for a long time.

I love experimenting with different smoothie flavors. What is your favorite, go-to smoothie recipe?

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Creamy Lemon Meringue Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:

1 frozen banana
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp agave nectar
1 cup water
Ice cubes (enough to reach your desired consistency. I like my smoothies really runny, so I sometimes skip ice cubes all together)

METHOD:

1. Place all ingredients except ice cubes in blender and blend until smooth.

2. Add ice cubes until desired consistency is reached.

3. Top with oatmeal or perhaps my Lemon Chamomile Granola and enjoy!

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For those of you who are lemon-obsessed like me, here are my other lemon recipes. Also, look forward to more lemon recipes coming soon (think homemade, low sugar pudding).