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!

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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Idaho Cherry Pie

 We are currently in the middle of a heat wave with temperatures reaching the triple digits. Summer has indeed arrived, and one of my favorite summer celebrations is the 4th of July!

During the month of June, I would like to share some of my favorite star-spangled desserts to celebrate America’s birthday with a bang!

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The girls and I have thoroughly been enjoying cherry season — my parents’ cherry tree is filled with ripened cherries! We’ve literally picked bags full, and it is still bursting with color! The robins who built their nests nearby are also extremely delighted and have become quite tame as we pick cherries together!

I was inspired to bake a patriotic pie for my first dessert — which would also be a great addition to any summer picnic or party!

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Idaho Cherry Pie

Pie Crust Recipe from King Arthur Flour

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

*I substituted 1/4 cup Palm Fruit Shortening for the Vegetable Shortening

Cherry Filling

5 cups tart cherries, pitted

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup raw honey

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

***

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-While preparing your pie crust, combine cherries, sugar, coconut sugar, honey and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl. Stir well, allowing flavors to combine.

-When crust is ready, add lemon juice, cornstarch and salt to cherries and stir well.

-Pour cherry filling into prepared crust and top with stars and stripes crust décor.

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-For the stars, I used a star template, but a star cookie cutter would be ideal. For the stripes, simply cut into 1″ strips to lay across the pie, sealing ends to the edges of the crust.

-Brush stars and stripes with egg white and sprinkle with raw cane sugar.

-Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until crust is a deep golden brown and filling begins to bubble.

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Serve warm or cool. This pie pairs extremely well with a scoop (or two) of vanilla  ice cream! It’s as American as apple … er, cherry pie!

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!

Honey-Garlic Barbecue Sauce

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Who’s ready for some barbecue? I know I am!

As the days grow warmer and longer, one of my favorite ways to spend an evening is outside grilling up a tasty dinner!

I love a variety of barbecue sauces, but one of my favorites is a sweet sauce with a hint of tang. I am also a huge fan of local honey — which inspired me to whip up a batch of this honey-garlic barbecue sauce!

Perfect for burgers, chicken and beef as well as slow-cooked barbecued beef or chicken!

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Honey-Garlic Barbecue Sauce

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

1 1/4 cups tomato ketchup

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup honey, local if possible

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

-In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and whisk together on medium-low.

-Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

-This recipe yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of barbecue sauce.

Enjoy!

 

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!

Blackberry-Honey Smoothie

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As I’ve mentioned before, I love smoothies! They’re incredibly versatile — perfect for breakfast, a snack or a refreshing pick-me-up. This smoothie is smooth and delicious — reminiscent of summer with a slice of homemade blackberry pie or ice-cream. The added benefit is that blackberries are highly nutritious and an excellent source of fiber.

Blackberry-Honey Smoothie

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

1 cup vanilla almond milk

1/3 cup ice

2/3 cup frozen blackberries

1/3 cup raw oats

2 Tablespoons raw honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender until well-incorporated and smooth.

Garnish with additional blackberries, if desired.

Note: If you prefer your smoothie to be seedless, pour beverage through a mesh strainer before serving.

Enjoy!

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Honey Pecan – Chocolate Chip Muffins

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I love the flavor of candied pecans as well as the combination of chocolate with pecans, so I’ve tried to incorporate all three flavors into this new muffin recipe. These are great for a snack, light dessert or sweet breakfast. I hope you’ll give them a try and let me know how you like them!

Honey Pecan – Chocolate Chip Muffins

*I prefer to use all organic ingredients

1 cup pecans, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon coconut sugar

2 cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup vanilla almond milk

2/3 cup raw honey

6 Tablespoons coconut oil, softened

1 Tablespoon vanilla

3/4 cup chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

-In a food processor, pulse together the pecans, cinnamon and coconut sugar. You can also finely chop the pecans and mix together in a small bowl.

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-In a stand mixer, with a hand mixer or by hand, gently whisk together the eggs, vanilla almond milk, honey, coconut oil and vanilla until combined.

-Gently blend in the flour, baking powder and salt until incorporated into the wet ingredients.

-Gently fold in the pecan, cinnamon, coconut sugar and chocolate chips by hand.

-Fill muffin liners or cases approximately 2/3 full, and bake for 13-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

-Garnish with chopped pecans and shaved chocolate, if desired.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookies

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Snow has arrived!

Yesterday, we spent a cozy day inside while watching the softly-falling snow through the windows. By morning, the snow storm had subsided, and the girls couldn’t wait to get outside for a day of sledding!

For me, snow days are cozy. I want to cuddle in a blanket, sip hot chocolate with my family, and we can’t forget something yummy to bake, now can we?

While listening to Christmas tunes play merrily, I was inspired to bake up some cookies that I hope you will enjoy!

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookies

*I prefer to use organic ingredients

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon raw honey

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup finely chopped pecans

-With a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend butter and coconut oil.

-Add sugars, eggs, vanilla and honey — mix until light and fluffy.

-Gently incorporate flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

-Stir in chocolate chips and pecans by hand until well incorporated.

Scoop by rounded tablespoon (a cookie scoop works wonderfully!) onto a baking sheet or baking stone, and bake for 10-12 minutes. Edges should begin to turn a soft brown.

-Cool on cookie rack for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a plate.

Enjoy!

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