Very Berry Shortbread Sundae

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Happy 4th of July weekend!

Here it is the first day of July, and I’m wondering where the month of June went? Fun-filled with baby chicks, out-of-state visits from family and gearing up for one of our favorite celebrations — America’s birthday!

I’m rounding off my 4th of July desserts with a cool and creamy berry sundae complete with a lemon-flavored shortbread. But this recipe should not be reserved for the 4th of July — it can be enjoyed any day!

I want to mention that my talented husband made these beautiful dessert glasses from recycled champagne bottles! Aren’t they gorgeous? He’s busily working on his inventory and you can check out his lovely line of hand-cut glassware very soon at CucinaBellissima.com! Be looking for an official “Grand Opening” in the near future!

Very Berry Shortbread Sundae

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients when possible

For the Lemon Shortbread

*adapted from King Arthur Flour Shortbread Cookie Recipe

2 cups almond flour

6 Tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)

6 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon juice

***

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Lightly grease a 9″ x 7″ baking dish

-In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients by spoon and spread into prepared pan.

-In preheated oven, bake for 17-18 minutes, or until shortbread begins to turn a golden brown around the edges and on top.

-Remove from stove and set aside to cool completely.

For the Berry Syrup

2 cups fresh or frozen berries (I used a combination of blackberries, strawberries and blueberries)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon water

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup raw honey

***

-In a medium saucepan, combine ingredients and stir.

-Heat on low-medium, and as berries begin to soften, increase heat to medium.

-Continue stirring as berry sauce reaches a low simmer, and cook for approximately 2 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.

-Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

***

One Pint of Strawberry Ice Cream

***

When the shortbread and berry sauce has cooled, take out one pint of berry ice cream (I used strawberry) and allow to soften for easier scooping.

-Cut the shortbread into eight equal squares, and crumble one square each into four dessert glasses.

-Scoop ice cream over the shortbread, and repeat with an additional layer of shortbread. (the shortbread should be about the size of large croutons.)

-Repeat with another ice cream layer, then spoon the berry sauce over the shortbread and ice cream, allowing the sauce to drizzle down into the glasses.

-Garnish with shaved coconut, if desired.

-Serve immediately and enjoy!

Serves four

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From our home to yours, have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

It’s Texas Sheet Cake, Y’all!

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Well howdy!

After reading the book That’s Not Hay in My Hair this month, I’ve been so inspired by the great state of Texas. Coincidently, I’ve also been missing one of my sisters who lives in Texas, so reading that particular book gave me a feeling of visiting her homestead, so to speak.

Over the years that she and her family have lived in Texas, I have detected the faintest of Texan accents emerging from my sister, and I love it! I love hearing her sweet voice exclaim, “Hey!”, “Howdy!” or “y’all!” as if she were a Texas native. It makes me smile!

So, hey howdy! I’m in the mood for baking up a Texas Sheet Cake for y’all  — which fits very nicely into our patriotic desserts leading up to the 4th of July! Barbecue, Texas Sheet Cake, sparklers and fireworks — sounds like a great 4th to me!

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Texas Sheet Cake

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

for the cake:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup water

4 Tablespoons cocoa powder

***

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

***

1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice)

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla

***

-preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In medium-sized saucepan, bring butter, coconut oil, water and cocoa to a boil; remove from heat.

-In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and sugars. Add the butter/cocoa mixture and stir with a wooden spoon.

-Add in beaten eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

-Pour into a greased 13″ x 18″ sheet cake pan (or jelly roll pan).

-Bake for 13-14 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

for the frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons milk (or vanilla almond milk)

1 cup pecans, crushed

extra crushed pecans for garnishing

-With a stand mixer or hand mixer, combine butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add maple syrup and milk — mix until light and fluffy. Gently stir in pecans by hand.

-Immediately spread frosting over the warm cake — the frosting will melt and spread easily. Allow to cool, and top with additional crushed pecans, if desired.

This cake is incredibly moist and flavorful — the chocolate/pecan frosting gives it an extra measure of deliciousness with a subtle hint of maple.

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Enjoy and Happy 4th!

White Chocolate Chip-Cranberry Cookies

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Continuing my patriotic theme for 4th of July celebrations, I decided on a white chocolate-cranberry cookie because one of America’s favorite desserts would have to be a delicious cookie paired with a cold glass of milk, am I right?

These cookies are soft with a slightly crispy edge — the sweetness of the white chocolate compliments the dried cranberries so very well.

We have our white and red ingredients, so my recommendation is to serve these goodies with fresh summer fruit — preferably in the blue and red colors to complete the theme. 😉

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White Chocolate Chip-Cranberry Cookies

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup coconut oil, softened

2/3 cup raw cane sugar

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup vanilla (or plain) almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

3/4-1 cup dried cranberries

***

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-With a stand mixer, hand mixer or by hand, beat together the butter, coconut oil and sugars.

-Add the vanilla and almond milk, mix well.

-Gradually blend in the flour, baking soda and salt until well combined, but not overmixed.

-Gently fold in the white chocolate chips and cranberries.

***

Scoop into rounded tablespoons (a cookie scoop works great!) and bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are a soft golden brown.

-Cool for 2-5 minutes before transferring to a plate.

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Enjoy on the 4th as well as any day of the year!

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip-Almond Butter Muffins

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We recently found out that our youngest has multiple food allergies to wheat, bananas, egg whites, tomatoes and peanuts. Today I baked my first batch of coconut flour muffins for her to sample, and I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how coconut flour works!

I have always wanted to try baking with various flours. I’ve done a few recipes with almond flour and really enjoy its nice nutty texture. Today I decided to give coconut flour a try.

First, I did some reading up on coconut flour which was extremely helpful! Coconut flour is ultra absorbent, so you don’t need near the amount as regular flour. (no wonder they sell coconut flour in smaller bags!) 😉 In addition, coconut flour requires an increase in bonding agents such as eggs or milk.

This was really a trial run to see if I could produce moist muffins with a delicious flavor. As I couldn’t use peanut butter, I opted for almond butter which my daughter has been enjoying. The girls and I were quite pleased with the results, so without further ado, I give you Chocolate Chip-Almond Butter Muffins made with coconut flour, coconut sugar and coconut oil to boot! 😉

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Chocolate Chip-Almond Butter Muffins

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

4 whole eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 coconut sugar

1/4 cup raw honey

1/2 cup almond butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup vanilla almond milk

3/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips

additional chocolate chips and shaved coconut

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-With a stand mixer, hand mixer or by hand, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add coconut oil, sugar, honey, almond butter, vanilla and almond milk and mix until well blended.

-Gently add in coconut flour, baking soda and salt until well incorporated.

-Another great tip I read was to let your batter sit 4-5 minutes so that the coconut flour will have time to absorb the liquid. The mixture will end up looking somewhat like pumpkin puree.

-Gently fold in chocolate chips.

-Spoon into cupcake liners approximately 3/4 full. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips and coconut flakes on top and bake for 15-16 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

-Allow to cool 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Almond-Coconut Smoothie

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A little over a week ago, we found out that our youngest daughter is allergic to peanuts as well as a few other foods. The allergies are in the moderate-low range, however the nurse said to keep an eye on the peanut allergy as it could become worse.

I’ll have to say, our little girl was pretty disappointed to learn she was allergic to one of her very favorite foods — tomatoes not so much, but peanut butter!

She loves peanut butter!

I tried to encourage her with all the foods she is not allergic to and mentioned that almond butter is pretty amazing! She was delighted, and I think she is going to be very pleased with this new smoothie — although I’m going to have to replace the banana in hers. Another allergy!

I hope you will enjoy this new recipe as well!

Chocolate Almond-Coconut Smoothie

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

1 cup vanilla almond milk

2/3-3/4 cup ice

1 banana, in pieces

1/2 cup raw oats

2-3 Tablespoons almond butter

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

2-3 Tablespoons shaved coconut

***

In a blender, combine all ingredients and pulse until mixture begins to combine.

-Mix on medium-high for approximately 45 seconds or until smooth.

-Garnish with additional coconut and a few chocolate shavings, if desired.

-Serves one, but can easily be doubled.

***

A rich and creamy smoothie that is perfect for breakfast, a snack or even dessert!

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Enjoy!

Raspberry-Honey Cupcakes

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Can you believe we’re in the last few weeks of spring — then headed into the glorious, sun-filled days of summer?

As many of you already know, we are a homeschooling family, and in these last few weeks, it is getting harder to stay focused on our studies. I find my daughters, as well as myself, gazing dreamily out the windows. The weather is warmer, the days are growing longer, and let’s face it, it’s a wonderful time of year to be outdoors! We’re in the home(school)-stretch and should be finished up by early next week!

I felt it was only fitting to celebrate a  wonderful homeschool year, two lovely daughters who fill every day with sunshine and a hip-hip-hooray to summertime! I was inspired to make these cupcakes by my girls — a touch of honey topped with a dazzling raspberry pink! Andno artificial colors are needed for the frosting!

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Honey Cupcakes

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup coconut oil, softened

3 large eggs

2 Tablespoons vanilla

3 Tablespoons raw honey

1 cup raw cane sugar

***

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 cup vanilla almond milk

***

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

***

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

-With a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend butter and coconut oil well. Add eggs, vanilla, honey and sugar and mix on medium for 2-3 minutes allowing mixture to become light and fluffy.

-Add dry ingredients alternately with vanilla almond milk and yogurt. Mix until well incorporated, but do not overmix.

-Fill cupcake liners approximately 2/3 full, and bake for 17-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out of cupcakes clean.

***

Raspberry-Honey Frosting

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup palm fruit oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla

***

2/3 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup raw honey

***

3 2/3 cups powdered sugar

***

-With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat oils and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

-In a saucepan, heat raspberries and honey on low until berries have softened.

-Gently pour the raspberry-honey mixture through a colander — push with a spoon to extract all of the raspberry juice and incorporate into the oil and vanilla mixture.

-Gently begin added the sifted powdered sugar about one cup at a time — mixing well after each addition.

-After frosting cooled cupcakes, garnish with additional raspberries and/or coconut flakes, if desired.

-Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes

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I think these cupcakes are especially wonderful when enjoyed outside in the sunshine!

Enjoy!

Mother’s Day Lemon Meringue Pie

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Mother’s Day is one of my favorite days — celebrating our wonderful mothers as well as the joys of motherhood.

God has blessed me with a wonderful mom whom I cherish, and since Lemon Meringue Pie is one of her favorite desserts, I would like to dedicate this post to her in honor of Mother’s Day. 

In addition, God gave me the great blessing of two precious daughters, so this post is dedicated to them as well. They are my treasures.

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Pie Crust

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Tablespoons palm oil

6 Tablespoons coconut oil, cold

5-6 Tablespoons ice water

-Preheat oven to 475 degrees

-In a food processor, gently combine all ingredients on pulse until dough forms medium-sized pebbles. Do not over-mix. Alternatively, a pastry cutter can be used to blend ingredients.

-Wrap dough in plastic wrap or place in a small glass bowl, and refrigerate 10-15 minutes until chilled.

-Gently press pie dough into a 9 inch pie dish and return to refrigerator for 20-25 minutes.

-Prick dough with a fork, and bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until softly golden.

Lemon Pie Filling

*Slightly adapted from the Joy of Cooking Cookbook

-In a medium-sized saucepan, blend together:

1 1/4 cups raw cane sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Blend  in well:

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Whisk in:

4 egg yolks

3 Tablespoons coconut oil

-Stir over medium heat with a wooden spoon until mixture begins to simmer. Cook for one minute — mixture will thicken. Pour into prepared pie crust.

Meringue

-With a stand mixer or hand mixer, whisk until soft peaks form:

4 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

-Slowly blend in:

2 Tablespoons raw cane sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

-Spread meringue over hot pie filling, ensuring edges of crust are sealed.

-Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

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Wishing you a beautiful and joyous Mother’s Day!

A Day in the City

Last week, we made a drive into the big city to run some much-needed errands. First on the list: Jonathan’s appointment with an orthopedic specialist. After a series of tests, x-rays and an ultrasound, it was discovered that Jonathan is dealing with not one, but three painful spurs inside his left heel. Although doctors have tried for many months to take the less-invasive route, they have finally reached a point where they feel surgery is probably going to be necessary.

Jonathan has been in so much pain that a look of relief washed over his face when the specialist mentioned surgery to delicately remove the spurs. I seriously think he would have went in for surgery that very day if the doctor had allowed it, but he is encouraged to be moving forward!

Jonathan’s specialist is near downtown Boise, so after his appointment, we decided to enjoy a leisurely lunch and walk around town. Boise is by no means a bustling metropolis like Los Angeles, but what it lacks in size, it makes up in charming little details around almost every corner.

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Our first stop was lunch at one of our very favorites — Moon’s Café. Complete with a lunch counter, famous milkshakes and whimsical décor, Moon’s serves fabulous food with retro flair.

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For example —  a juicy Moon’s Cheddar Burger or a plate of mouth-watering Biscuits with Sausage Gravy. (not organic — but a delightful treat every now and then 😉 )

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After lunch, we most definitely needed to walk — so we spent part of our afternoon strolling down some of our favorites parts of the city.

A few of our favorite views —

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It didn’t take long before “Sweet Street” was brought up. Nicknamed for a sweet variety of shops all conveniently lined up together, Sweet Street happily greets you with City Peanut Shop, the Chocolat Bar and A Cupcake Paradise.

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Hmmm … where do we start?

We decided it would be best to limit our sweets to one shop and agreed on the Chocolat Bar this time around.

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How can I possibly decide which one to try?

Especially after we were given samples, and everything was delicious! I finally narrowed it down to a chocolate truffle — so rich, dense and tiny, yet I felt as if I had ate two chocolate bars. Ahh, the beauty of handmade truffles. I should have taken a picture, but that little truffle disappeared in a flash!

However, I can post a picture of the display case where I found my lovely treat — the soft brown ones on the middle shelf.

Oh little truffles, how I miss you!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed our little walk through downtown Boise! I hope to share more pictures of Boise in the near future!

A huge thank you to my sweet daughter for being my talented photographer throughout Boise.

Coconut Cake With Blackberry-Honey Syrup

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It is safe to say that I have caught the spring bug, and I love it! Sun-filled afternoons, soft rains and … wait for it … I was even able to open a few windows this week to let in the fresh air!

I tend to brush off the “official” day of spring because it is feeling so much like spring already! I am eagerly awaiting the first blossoms, buds and honey bees, and I suddenly have a great desire to clean everything in the house using all-natural, lemon-scented cleaning products!

This enthusiasm has carried over into the kitchen — culminating in a recipe I came up with for coconut cake with blackberry-honey syrup. I pictured this cake in the midst of a sunny spring picnic or family gathering. I could almost hear the robins tweeting in the background, and I am so excited to share it with you! I only wish we could gather to enjoy it together!

Coconut Cake

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup coconut oil, softened

3/4 cup raw cane sugar

3/4 cup coconut sugar

4 large egg whites

1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup coconut flakes

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-Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

-In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, combine butter, coconut oil and sugars. Add egg whites and vanilla and mix on medium for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy.

-Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with the almond milk, until batter is smooth.

Pour into a buttered/floured 13×9 cake pan and bake for approximately 27-29 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean in the center.

-While cake is cooling, prepare frosting and blackberry-honey syrup.

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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

3 Tablespoons butter, softened

3 Tablespoons palm fruit shortening, softened

2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup vanilla almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

-In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, combine butter and shortening until creamy. Add vanilla. Alternate powdered sugar with almond milk until creamy.

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Blackberry-Honey Syrup

4 cups blackberries, frozen

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

3/4 cup raw honey

-In a medium-size saucepan, combine all ingredients on low-medium heat and stir. As blackberries begin to soften, increase heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1-2 minutes or until syrup begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

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-When cake has cooled, frost and sprinkle with the flaked coconut.

-Before serving, drizzle individual servings with the blackberry-honey syrup and sprinkle with additional coconut flakes.

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I hope you will enjoy! Here’s to a lovely spring!