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Sweet Potato Pie without crust and a brown sugar-oat topping | alidaskitchen.com

Crustless Sweet Potato Pie

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Sweet Potato Pie made without crust | alidaskitchen.com #PAMSmartTips #ad

Crustless Sweet Potato Pie is a delicious pie made with sweet potatoes, a brown sugar-oat crumble topping and without a crust.!  Since there is no crust, this dessert is a healthier alternative and super easy to make!

Every Thanksgiving, I look forward to making Crustless Pumpkin Pie.  It’s always delicious, a bit healthier, and never disappoints.   This year I thought it would be fun to mix things up and try a sweet potato version of this favorite pie.  I love sweet potatoes just as much as I love pumpkin, so why not try a Crustless Sweet Potato Pie!…

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Poppy Seed Cake from Alida's Kitchen

Poppy Seed Cake

Poppy Seed Cake from Alida's Kitchen

This Poppy Seed Cake is a classic buttermilk coffee cake studded with poppy seeds and a cinnamon swirl in the middle.  It is perfect for a dessert, brunch, or even a special breakfast treat.

This Poppy Seed Cake recipe is from my mom.  It is one of my favorite treats that she makes for special occasions.  She got this recipe many years ago (we’re talking decades) from the hostess of a ladies luncheon.  She said everybody at the party was asking for the recipe.  That’s always a good sign!

I made a last minute decision to whip up this cake, and as a result had to make a few changes from the original recipe based on what I had on hand.  I used vanilla extract since I was out of almond extract.  I also used oil in place of butter because I had one stick of butter left that I was planning to use to make cookies!  Feel free to use almond and/or butter in place of what is noted below.  Either way works great!…

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Salted Caramel Brownies....made on the lighter side!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Salted Caramel Brownies

With a fudgy brownie base, a smooth caramel topping,  a drizzle of dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt, you really can’t go wrong with these Salted Caramel Brownies made on the lighter side!

Like most people, I am obsessed with salted caramel anything.  Salted caramel ice cream, candies, straight from a jar perhaps?  Clearly Salted Caramel Brownies were a no brainer!  The brownie layer alone was fudgy and delicious.  The caramel layer was actually very easy to make, which was nice (and dangerous!).  Last,  a little drizzle of bittersweet chocolate (or you could just sprinkle some semi-sweet chocolate chips to simplify things) and a sprinkling of sea salt….

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Pumpkin Muffin Cookies

Pumpkin Muffin Cookies #kleenexallergy

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Kleenex but all my opinions are my own. #KleenexAllergy #pmedia http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO

Pumpkin Muffin Cookies

 Pumpkin Muffin Cookies have been a staple for us this Fall.  They are soft, chewy and healthy pumpkin cookies easily customized with chocolate chips, dried cranberries or your favorite mix-in. 

Pumpkin Muffin Cookies are are soft, chewy pumpkin cookies studded with chocolate chips or whatever mix-in you might enjoy, such as raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, the options are limitless.  These cookies are actually kind of a cross between a cookie and a muffin, which makes them perfect for an on-the-go breakfast or snack, or just any time you need a little pick-me-up.   Like I shared with you over doughnuts last week, lots of pumpkin recipes going on here!

The portability of these healthy pumpkin cookies made them an essential snack for us during our Fall activities.  If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that our favorite activity this Fall was Sever’s Corn Maze!      …

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Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats | alidaskitchen.com

Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats #alphabits

Alpha-Bits Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats

Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats put a delicious pumpkin twist on classic marshmallow cereal treats made fun for kids using Alpha-Bits cereal.

Now that Halloween is over, Thanksgiving planning is in full force.   My favorite part of Thanksgiving planning is dessert!   While I absolutely love this crustless pumpkin pie recipe, it can be nice to mix things up a bit and make something new.  Marshmallow cereal treats are always a favorite, especially with kids.  I decided to combine my favorite Thanksgiving dessert (pumpkin pie) with a treat that kids love (marshmallow cereal treats) to create a fun Thanksgiving treat ~ these Pumpkin Pie Alpha-Bits Treats!…

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Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts

Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts

Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts #CMcantwaitCGC

Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts are healthier doughnuts, baked (not fried) made with whole wheat flour and topped with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Icing.

Clearly we all know what I love best about Fall…pumpkin recipes!   We have gone pumpkin crazy over here this year, with pumpkin cake, muffins, pasta, cake again, and now doughnuts.   After finally acquiring a couple doughnut pans, naturally my first go-to recipe is for Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts….

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Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels

Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels #SundaySupper

Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels

Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels are a fun, easy, salty-sweet treat that is perfect for Halloween!

With Halloween only a few days away, I thought it would be fun to put a Halloween twist on one of my favorite holiday treats ~ Pretzel Kiss Candies.   These treats are perfect for holidays or special occasions.  They have that sweet-salty thing going on, which is wildly popular, and they can be decorated to coordinate with any occasion.

By using a candy corn instead of an M&M candy for the topping, Candy Corn White Chocolate Pretzels are a Halloween treat that is  adorable, festive and fun for all ages.  They are very quick to make, and so easy that the kids can easily get involved as well.  The result is an easy Halloween treat that is always a crowd favorite!

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Lighter Frosted Pumpkin Cake

Frosted Pumpkin Cake

Frosted Pumpkin Cake

Frosted Pumpkin Cake is a classic pumpkin sheet cake topped with cream cheese frosting.  Delicious and made on the lighter side!

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I love baking with pumpkin!  While it is always fun to get creative, there is something to be said about the classics.  This Frosted Pumpkin Cake is absolutely a classic.   The moist cake is filled with pumpkin and warm spices of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice ~ the epitome of Fall pumpkin baking.  Topped with a cream cheese frosting,  Frosted Pumpkin Cake is a favorite classic combination…and it is made on the lighter side!     …

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Pudding-Filled Cookie Cups from Alida's Kitchen

Pudding Cookie Cups

Pudding Cookie Cups

Pudding Cookie Cups are chocolate chip cookie dough baked in a mini muffin tin and topped with your favorite JELL-O pudding.  These fun treats are easy to make and can be decorated for any holiday or occasion.

With all the decorations, the costumes, the pumpkins and the spooky edibles, Halloween is by far my favorite holiday.  With Halloween only two weeks away, I wanted to share some fun treat ideas that are easy to make and great for kids.  These could be for a Halloween party or simply to treat all those neighbor kids paying your house a visit….

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Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars have the classic taste of  a buttery, cinnamon-y snickerdoodle cookie in a quick and easy to make bar.    

While I love to make (and eat!) cookies, the simplicity of turning a cookie recipe into a quick and easy to make bar is very attractive.  Especially when life gets busy or you get a last minute request for goodies, it is so nice to be able whip the batter together, pour it into a pan and bake.  No portioning, scooping, rolling  required.   Just bake, cut into squares and serve.

These Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars are a wonderful treat for the holidays, or any time.  They are buttery and cinnamon-y, like their cookie cousins, yet can be made in minutes.  I thought this recipe would be perfect for Week #3 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats.  Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars offer a little variety for your holiday cookie platter and are loved by many!…

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Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake is a rich, moist chocolate cake made with pumpkin and a hint of spice. Pumpkin replaces much of the fat in the cake that is made on the lighter side!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is a rich, moist chocolate cake made with pumpkin and a hint of spice.  Pumpkin replaces much of the fat in the cake that is made on the lighter side!

Lately I have been enjoying making chocolate desserts a bit healthier using various fruits and vegetables.  The results have been fantastic, with each recipe far exceeding my expectations.   This Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is no exception!  This cake kind of reminds me of a chocolate covered pumpkin truffle, only in cake form…and a little healthier….

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are everything delicious about a chocolate chip cookie in a quick and easy to make bar.   This is the ultimate basic blondie recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookie BarsChocolate Chip Cookie Bars

While I  love cookies, I don’t always have the time (or patience) to portion out each individual cookie for baking.  This is where the cookie bar is genius.  These Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars take only 10 minutes to prepare and then just spread in the pan and bake.  No rolling or cutting or shaping the dough.  And the result is everything delicious about a chocolate chip cookie in a quick and easy to make bar.  There are so many possibilities for variations with this recipe too, which is fun.  …

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Chocolate Zucchini Brownies from alidaskitchen.com

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Brownies from alidaskitchen.com

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies are so chocolaty and fudgy, you would never guess they’re filled with zucchini!  Plus they are made with whole wheat flour and can be made vegan.  These are quite possibly, the best brownies ever!

The other night I shredded zucchini to make Chocolate Zucchini Bread again.  It was so chocolaty and good, I just couldn’t resist!  But then I opened my iPad and saw a zucchini brownie recipe that I had been researching.  Brownies are always tasty, plus this recipe looked quick and easy.  Why not try something new?  Considering how delicious chocolate and zucchini are together, I had no doubt Chocolate Zucchini Brownies would be good.  Now, they weren’t just good,……

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S'mores Brownies | alidaskitchen.com

S’mores Brownies #SundaySupper

S'mores Brownies | alidaskitchen.com

What do you get when you cross a brownie with a s’more?  This easy recipe for S’mores Brownies!   

As Labor Day marks the unofficial end of Summer, I am looking forward to cooler temperatures, Halloween (!) and, of course, lots of pumpkin recipes.  While Fall baking is my absolute favorite, sometimes nothing hits the spot quite like a s’more.   I have made several s’more-inspired recipes, including muffins, blondies, Golden Graham’s bars, even a cool and creamy pie!  But these S’mores Brownies might be my favorite s’more-inspired treat.  The chocolate brownie base is the perfect vehicle for all of the yummy s’more toppings, plus they take only minutes to prepare….

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread | alidaskitchen.com

Chocolate Zucchini Bread | Bundt Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Bread is a moist, chocolaty bread made with zucchini and a delicious way to use up all of that zucchini taking over your garden! 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread | alidaskitchen.com

I love the entire season of summer produce, from the abundance of berries and herbs, to everything in between. However what I really look forward to is the end of summer produce.  Mainly…zucchini!   All summer long I compile zucchini recipes in anticipation of the great bounty of summer squash….

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Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars {Alida's Kitchen}

Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars #SundaySupper

Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars {Alida's Kitchen} Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars are easy, no-bake bars made nut-free with sunflower seed butter, and topped with a layer of semi-sweet chocolate. They are also gluten-free.  

With back-to-school just around the corner, we are starting to think about ideas for what to pack for school lunch.  Something nutritious, delicious and easy isn’t too much to ask, right?  A little variety might be nice too.  Fortunately, today I am joining the Sunday Supper Movement, and the theme is ‘lunch box.’  Several wonderful bloggers have come up with fantastic recipes and ideas to help solve the lunchbox dilemma.  These are recipes are helpful when packing your own lunch to bring to work!  You can find links to all of the wonderful recipes at the bottom of this post.  But first, let’s talk about these Cocoa Crispy Sunbutter Bars!    

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Cocoa Pebbles Dirt Pudding {alidaskitchen.com}

Cocoa Pebbles Dirt Pudding

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This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Post Pebbles but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PebblesBTS  http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO 

walgreens-pebbles-collage

The other day Adam and I made a trip to Walgreens for some Post Pebbles Cereal, but if you follow Alida’s Kitchen on Instagram, you already know this.  I had several tasty recipe ideas swirling about, but also wanted to show Adam that you can take everyday items, such as cereal, and be creative.  While I do have an easy recipe to share with you, first I have to tell you about the fun project we made with our Pebbles Cereal!…

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Marble Cake with Fudge Frosting

Marble Cake with Fudge Frosting is the perfect party cake!  Enjoy a swirl of yellow cake and chocolate cake in every bite, topped with a fudgy chocolate frosting.  Delicious, a crowd favorite, and easy to make!

marble-cake-with-fudge-frosting-sqc

Recently, we celebrated Mike’s birthday, and as always I asked him to pick his birthday treat.  He usually just tells me to make whatever, but this year he got some advice from our resident 3 year old (who may be a bit opinionated these days).  After consulting a couple of his favorite cookbooks (really!) and a few of my printed recipes, Adam’s decision was made ~ Marble Cake with Fudge Frosting.  While Adam had never had marble cake before, and at the time was not a fan of chocolate, he was sure this was the perfect cake for his daddy.  He was absolutely right!

With yellow cake and chocolate cake in a pretty little swirl, we enjoyed the best of both worlds and the fudge frosting was the perfect icing on the cake (ha!)   And while it looks fancy, this cake is super simple to make.  The frosting was a bit stiff during the stirring process and goes on thick, yet is a thin layer on top of the tasty cake.  Decorate it as you wish, and here is the perfect party cake to celebrate any special occasion.

Marble Cake with Fudge Frosting - Alida's Kitchen

Marble Cake with Fudge Frosting
 
Marble Cake with Fudge Frosting is the perfect party cake! Enjoy a swirl of yellow cake and chocolate cake in every bite, topped with a fudgy chocolate frosting.
Yields: 16-20 servings
Ingredients
  • Cake:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Cooking spray
  • Frosting:
  • 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk (I used skim)
Instructions
  1. FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 350* F. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine cocoa, ¼ cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup water.
  4. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer (hand or stand) set to medium-high, beat butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low, and add eggs, milk and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add flour mixture, continue beating on low until combined.
  5. Pour 2 cups of the vanilla batter into the bowl with the cocoa mixture, and stir until smooth.
  6. Pour vanilla batter into the prepared baking pan. Spoon chocolate batter into six puddles on top of the vanilla batter. Drag a knife through the two batters, creating a swirly marble effect.
  7. Bake 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost once cool.
  8. FOR THE FROSTING: Put chocolate chips in a glass or metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or use a double-boiler), until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add butter, powdered sugar and milk. Beat on high until frosting comes together. Add more milk or sugar as needed to achieve desired consistency. (If frosting is too stiff, add more milk; if it's too wet, add more powdered sugar)
  9. Spread over cooled cake and decorate as desired.

Source: Real Simple

Marble Cake with Fudge Frosting - Alida's Kitchen

Chocolate Banana Brownies

 Chocolate Banana Brownies are so rich and fudgy,  you would never guess they are low in fat (and can be made vegan)!
  Chocolate Banana Brownies | alidaskitchen.com
I’ve been on a bit of a brownie kick lately and found myself choosing between three different brownies recipes to share with you today.  These Chocolate Banana Brownies were at the top of the list.  A brownie that is so rich and fudgy, you would never guess it’s low in fat (and can be made vegan)?  Yes please!
  Chocolate Banana Brownies | alidaskitchen.com

The addition of bananas not only puts a tasty twist on these brownies, but it also helps reduce some of the added fat.  There are also no eggs in this recipe.  Changes from the original recipe include using whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose (either one works fine, I just wanted a whole wheat brownie) and using brown sugar instead of granulated, because I love the flavor brown sugar adds to baked goods.  Use your favorite non-dairy milk and non-dairy chocolate chips, and you have a delicious vegan dessert that everybody will love!

Chocolate Banana Brownies
 
Author:
Yields: 13x9-inch pan of brownies (see note for servings)
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (2-3, depending on size)
  • ¼ cup milk (use soy or almond for vegan)
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (use dairy-free for vegan)
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir bananas, milk, oil, and vanilla until well-blended.
  4. Add banana mixture to flour mixture, gently stirring until just combined. Add chocolate chips, folding gently.
  5. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Be careful not to over bake, otherwise the brownie may not be as fudgy). Move pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares to serve.
Notes
Note: 24 squares = 150 calores/brownie, 36 squares = 100 calories/brownie. These amounts are approximations based on the ingredients I used.

Source: About.com

Have more overripe bananas?  Here are some other healthy, easy recipes to try:

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Banana Buttermilk Muffins

Healthy Banana Cookies

 

chocolate-banana-brownies-pin

White Cupcakes with Truffle Filling and White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

White Cupcakes with Truffle Filling and White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting are a fun cupcake with a gooey truffle center. They are super easy to make too!

This past weekend marked a special second birthday ~ Alida’s Kitchen turned 2!  Of course a birthday is not a birthday without cake, right?  I’ve been looking for a white chocolate cake for a long time and actually have several recipes I want to try.  This particular recipe won me over with two little words “truffle filling.”

While the original recipe called this cake white chocolate, it strikes me as closer to a white cake with a little tang from the sour cream.  So my quest for a white chocolate cake continues, but these White Cupcakes with Truffle Filling are definitely tasty.  I used a combination of white chocolate and dark chocolate truffles for the center, and both were good.  The White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting deliciously rounds everything out, making these cupcakes worthy this special 2-year celebration!

White Cupcakes with Truffle Filling and White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 12 round white or dark chocolate truffles (such as Lindt)
  • Frosting:
  • 4 ounces white chocolate baking bar, chopped
  • 1 package (8 ounces) light cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk flour and baking powder.
  3. In a liquid measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
  5. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add sour cream, and continue beating until smooth.
  6. On medium speed, alternate adding flour and milk to butter mixture, ending with flour, and beat until smooth.
  7. Stir in ⅓ of the egg whites. Fold in remaining egg whites until combined.
  8. Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove cupcakes from oven and while hot, cut a ½ inch "X" into the tops of each cupcake. Insert the truffle and press until truffle is flush with the top of the cupcake. Truffle will melt into cupcake. Let cool completely before frosting.
  10. Make frosting: Place white chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir. Continue in 30 second increments until melted. Let cool for 3 minutes.
  11. In a large bowl, combine melted chocolate, cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. Slowly add powdered sugar and continue beating until smooth.
  12. Frost cupcakes and decorate as desired.
Notes
Source: Pampered Chef

truffle filled white cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese icing

 

Oreo Cookies and Cream Muffins

Oreo Cookies and Cream Muffins are a tasty vanilla muffin studded with large chunks of chocolate sandwich cookies throughout.  If you like Oreos (or Joe Joe’s!) and are looking for a fun recipe to try with them, these muffins are for you.    While Oreo muffins are not something that I would make every day, after making the crust for my Lighter Chocolate Cheesecake Bars, I found myself with leftover Oreos (if there is such a thing).  Why not try something new for a change!  Oreo Cookies and Cream Muffins are glorious and definitely something worth trying if you’re a cookies and cream lover, like myself!

Oreo Cookies and Cream Muffins
 
Yields: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ⅓ cup cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 Oreo cookies, chopped
  • Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a standard muffin tin, line 12 muffin cups (or spray with cooking spray) and set aside.
  2. Make topping: In food processor, combine flour, sugar and crushed cookies until combined. Add cold butter, pulsing until crumbly. Put in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Make muffin: In a food processor, put flour, sugar and baking powder and process until combined. Add cold butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour into large bowl.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk milk, egg and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Gently fold in chopped cookies.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with topping. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes
Source: Taste of Home

 

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars | alidaskitchen.com

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

These Chocolate Cheesecake Bars are made on the lighter side!  They are chocolaty, decadent and soooo good!
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a dessert, so to make up for that, I decided you deserve some chocolate.   Not just any old chocolate though ~ Chocolate Cheesecake Bars, and they’re made on the lighter side.  Despite being made light, each bite of these Chocolate Cheesecake Bars is chocolaty, decadent and sooooo good!

The hands on work takes all of 10 minutes, which is awesome.  First you start with a simple chocolate cookie crumb crust.  Then toss the rest of the ingredients the food processor (minus the chocolate chips, which are used for topping) and process until smooth.  Pour the filling over the crust, sprinkle with chocolate chips, and bake.  Easy peasy!  After baking, just chill the bars for a few hours, or overnight.  Cut into bars and enjoy!

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
 
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (such as Oreos) - approx. 15 cookies
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (I used light butter)
  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used miniature)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with 2 strips of parchment (or waxed paper) set cross-wise in the pan. Spray with cooking spray again and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir cookie crumbs and melted butter until moistened. Using waxed paper, press cookie crumbs into the bottom of prepared pan.
  3. In a food processor, blend cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add cocoa, cornstarch, sugar, vanilla, egg and egg white and process until smooth. Pour into pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until set (be careful not to over bake). Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.
Notes
Notes: I made cookie crumbs by whizzing the Oreos in the food processor and then proceeded to make the filling - no need to wash in between. If you're gluten free, you can use gluten free cookies for the crumbs.

Adapted from Everyday Food, January/February, 2004

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars | alidaskitchen.com

 

Lighter Lemon Cake

Right now,  I am listening to the sounds of our snowplow service plowing our driveway. Again.  We got 5 inches of snow yesterday and are projected to get at least another inch today.  It’s mid-late April.  Yikes!  So while I had a different recipe to share with you today, I thought we all could use a little sunshine, well…for a variety of reasons these days. Nothing says sunshine quite like a lemon dessert, and this Lighter Lemon Cake will definitely brighten any day.

Back in February, I shared Adam’s Baseball Birthday cake, and the flavor of that cake was this Lighter Lemon Cake.  Lighter Lemon Cake has become my ‘go-to’ lemon cake.  It has a generous amount of lemon zest and juice, yielding a vibrant lemon flavor, and the buttermilk helps yield a nice, moist crumb.  The lemon zest and juice in the frosting gives an extra lemon boost, which is bright and delicious.  If you like lemon, you’ll love this cake!

This cake is made on the lighter side, which means less frosting than a typical cake, or a typical layer cake anyway.  While I stretched it to cover the sides of a layer cake for purposes of making a last minute baseball cake, I recommend just spreading frosting between the layers and on top of the cake, leaving the sides exposed OR make 1 1/2 times the frosting amount to have enough to fully cover the cake.

And while we are all a little snowed out after this winter, I can tell you one little boy who is elated.  Here is a picture of Adam after the snowstorm we had last week.  He’s loving every minute of it,…which is a different kind of sunshine that is sure to brighten any day.

Lighter Lemon Cake
 
Yields: 12-16 servings
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons finely granted lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Icing:
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼/ cup fresh lemon juice, add as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 9-inch (or 8-inch) cake pans with cooking spray, line the bottoms with waxed paper and coat the waxed paper with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter at medium speed with a hand (or stand) mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low after each addition until just combined. Last, beat in the lemon zest, juice and vanilla.
  4. Pour equal amounts of batter in prepared pans and sharply tap on counter to remove any bubbles.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from pans to cool completely. Remove waxed paper.
  6. To make icing: In a large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, lemon zest and juice until combined and smooth. Frost cake as desired.


Source: Cooking Light, May 2008

homemade fig newtons

Oatmeal Fig Bars | Homemade Fig Newtons

oatmeal fig bars | homemade fig newtons
Oatmeal Fig Bars are a chewy, fig-filled bar made on the lighter side.  They taste pretty close to a Fig Newton, but homemade is always better, right?  When I was researching for a healthy fig bar recipe made with oatmeal, I was surprised to find there weren’t many (or rather any that were suitable).  So I decided to take the dough of a oatmeal date bar recipe and replace the date filling with a fig filling.  Because I wanted these to be healthier, I reduced the amount of sugar in the dough and eliminated added sugar from the filling.  In lieu of sugar, I added lemon juice and zest to the filling to brighten the flavor and also act as a thickener.  The result was just what I had in mind for a healthy fig bar, and they were also really simple to make.

When I was making these Oatmeal Fig Bars, I couldn’t help but think about my grandma and grandpa and chuckle.  I’ve talked many times about my grandma and what a wonderful baker she was.  While I’m sure my grandpa loved all of her (delicious!) baked goodies, he always had a stash of Fig Newtons in their pantry.  I really can’t blame him.  Not much beats a Fig Newton (except for these bars of course!.. but I digress).  I don’t think my grandma ever attempted to make a homemade variety of his beloved fig bars, but I’m sure they would have been similar to these…and my grandpa would have stashed these instead!

oatmeal fig bars | homemade fig newtons

Oatmeal Fig Bars | Homemade Fig Newtons
 
Yields: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chopped dried figs, stems removed (8 ounces)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1½ cups rolled oats (I used quick oats)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted (I used light butter)
  • 1 egg white
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, put figs, water, lemon juice and zest, and bring to a boil. Simmer until mixture starts to thicken (about 3 minutes). Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  2. Put filling in food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add butter and egg white to oat mixture and stir until combined.
  6. Press half of the oat mixture into the prepared baking pan. [Note: I used waxed paper to press and spread the mixture into the pan]. Next, carefully spread with fig mixture. Last, drop pieces of remaining oat mixture over the fig mixture so it appears crumbly and then gently pat it down [Note: I used waxed paper for this step].
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

This marks the third installment of the Eating the Alphabet Challenge, hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic.  This month we’re featuring healthy recipes using fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes that start with letters E or F.  This was a no-brainer for me.  I’ve been wanting to come up with a healthy Fig Bar recipe, so this was just the incentive I needed!

Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies | alidaskitchen.com

Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies

 Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies add M&M chocolate candies to the best chewy sugar cookie recipe, resulting in one of my favorite cookies of all time. These are also fun for holidays!
Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies | alidaskitchen.com

When I first saw a recipe for Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies, and realized it used the same base recipe as my Chewy Sugar Cookies I knew they were going to be good.  Since those cookies are one of my favorites of all time, I figured M&Ms could only make them better, right?  Right!  The sugar cookie base is deliciously chewy and the cream cheese adds a little tang. Chocolate bursts of M&Ms are studded throughout. Chewy sugar cookies made with M&Ms. Genius idea.

I love how cute these look and that they can be made festive for any occasion.  Truth be told, I have been trying to make these cookies for months. I have M&Ms for every holiday stocked in my treat drawer that were intended to be used for Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies.  While I used Easter “Bunny Mix” M&Ms, these are made in honor of Spring (since there won’t be any left for Easter…Oops!).

Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies | alidaskitchen.com

Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies
 
Yields: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups sugar, plus ⅓ cup for rolling
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces (I used ⅓ less fat cream cheese)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and hot
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk (I used skim)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cup M&M chocolate candies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place ⅓ cup sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside (this will be used for rolling).
  2. In a medium bowl, whick the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add 1½ cups sugar and cream cheese. Pour butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps may remain). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth.
  4. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula. Add 1 cup of M&Ms and continue mixing until dough forms.
  5. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Using hands, roll dough into balls. Roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and place on prepared baking sheets, 12 balls per sheet. Using bottom of drinking glass, flatten balls until 2 inches in diameter. Using remaining M&Ms, gently press 2-3 candies onto tops of cookies.
  6. Bake 1 tray at a time until edges are set and beginning to brown, about 9 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Source:  as seen on Carrie’s Sweet Life, originally fromTracey’s Culinary Adventures

Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies | alidaskitchen.com

healthy cocoa chocolate coconut date truffles balls

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles

 Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles are an easy recipe made in minutes using only 3 ingredients with no added fat or sugar. {vegan, gluten free}

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles | alidaskitchen.com
Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles have the delicious flavors of dark chocolate and coconut…all coming in around 60 calories and without any added sugar of fat.  They are made using only 3 main ingredients (plus an optional ingredient which helps to deepen and intensify the chocolate flavor).  Even better – they take only minutes to make.  Intrigued?  I certainly was when I first found the recipe but it took me over 9 months to make them.  I am kicking myself that it took so long…they are so amazingly good!

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles | alidaskitchen.com

Thankfully, it is time again for the second installment of the Eating the Alphabet Challenge, hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic.  Participating in this challenge was the extra push I needed to make these truffles.  This month we’re featuring healthy recipes using fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes that start with letters C or D.  Since Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles feature both coconut and dates, I’ve got both letters covered this month.

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles | alidaskitchen.com

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Truffles
 
Yields: 20 truffles
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces pitted dates (approx 1½ cups)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut, for rolling
Instructions
  1. Put dates, cocoa, 3 tablespoons coconut and espresso powder in a food processor and puree until smooth. If mixture is too dry, add water by the teaspoonful (I needed about 3 teaspoons). If mixture becomes too wet, add more unsweetened coconut.
  2. Scoop mixture by the tablespoonful and form 1-inch balls. Roll balls in remaining coconut.
  3. Chill/store in refrigerator until ready to enjoy.

Source: Bon Appetit, June, 2012  

Baseball Birthday Cake

We celebrated Adam’s 3rd birthday last week!  Adam appreciates all things birthday, including parties, gifts and cake.  As my #1 cookbook reading companion, he also appreciates the importance of a good birthday cake design.

For Adam’s 2nd birthday, I assumed he wouldn’t have an opinion about his cake yet.  I worked on a plan for ball-themed cupcakes…then Adam told me he wanted a fire truck cake.  I shelved those ball cake plans and found a great design for a fire truck cake.  It was a fun challenge…I was determined to deliver a fire truck cake!

Considering how last year went, I should have known better.  Many months ago, Adam told me I could pick his cake this year.  I worked on some plans, came up with a great cake that I knew he would love.  And…you guessed it.  Within a couple days of his birthday, he told me he wanted a baseball cake.  Easy enough.  I resurrected my plans from last year to give Adam the Baseball Birthday Cake he wanted.  He was so excited about his ball cake, he started making plans for future ball cakes (i.e. Grandma wants a basketball cake, what ball do you want, mama,…).

This Baseball Birthday Cake is very easy to put together.  I made the cake the night before and then frosted and decorated it the morning of the birthday.   While the general idea is basic, I am sharing this simply because everybody knows a baseball fan, and who doesn’t love a fun cake!  This Baseball Birthday Cake is sure to put a huge grin on anybody’s face.

Baseball Birthday Cake
 
Directions for decorating a 9-inch round baseball birthday cake
Ingredients
  • 1 round cake, frosted with white frosting
  • red licorice vines
  • sweetened coconut (optional, for grass)
  • green food coloring (optional, for grass)
Instructions
  1. Put cake on serving plate or cake board.
  2. Cut licorice into ½" inch pieces (approximately 72-80 pieces, depending on size of and spacing on the cake).
  3. Take 2 licorice pieces to create a wide v-shape, like the lacing on a baseball, and place on top of the frosted cake. Repeat with remaining pieces until desired "lacing" is achieved.
  4. To make grass, put coconut in a ziploc bag. Put a couple drops of green food coloring in bag with coconut and seal bag. Then shake and squeeze/massage together until coconut has turned green. Sprinkle along outside of cake, as desired.
Notes
I found cutting the licorice vines the night before decorating made them less sticky on the hands when placing them on the cake. Also, if you aren't able to find licorice vines, you can easily use red frosting for the laces.

 

Healthy Banana Cookies - vegan, no added sugar and nut free | alidaskitchen.com

Healthy Banana Cookies

 Healthy Banana Cookies are a chewy, fruit-filled cookie made using some of my favorite foods – oats, dates and bananas.  They are made from simple, wholesome ingredients, have no butter and added sugar, thus making them a healthier choice.  I love the simplicity of these cookies and have to admit these cookies made a delightful breakfast!  These Healthy Banana Cookies also happen to be dairy free and can be gluten free.

I have had this at the top of my ‘to make’ pile for months just waiting for some super ripe bananas.   While we always have plenty of super ripe bananas in the house, they’re typically reserved for Pumpkin Banana Muffins or Pumpkin Banana Pancakes (or Strawberry Banana Pancakes once strawberry season hits).  Fortunately, I was a muffin and pancake making machine in advance of our new baby’s arrival, stocking the freezer full of Adam’s favorite banana goodies.  With a stocked freezer and 3 very ripe bananas, it was finally my opportunity to try these Healthy Banana Cookies!

Healthy Banana Cookies
 
Yields: approx. 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking work fine)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) pitted dates, chopped
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mash bananas. Add oats, dates, oil, vanilla and cinnamon, and mix well. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful onto prepared cookie sheets. [Note: the cookies don't spread so you may want to shape them a bit]
  4. Bake cookies for 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes
These are best enjoyed the day after baking.

Coincidentally, this is also the first month of the Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge for 2013, hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic.  Each month, several bloggers will focus on healthy recipes featuring fruits, vegetables grains or legumes, from a couple different letters (this month it is A or B).  I thought Healthy Banana Cookies would be the perfect healthy recipe to start off this fun series.

easy make ahead chocolate pudding cakes

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes


While Valentine’s Day isn’t a huge deal at our house, it does give me a reason to bake up something extra special…usually involving chocolate.  Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes are definitely something special.  They are a simple yet decadent dessert that is pure comfort food.  They are also surprisingly quick and easy to make and can even be made a day in advance (great for entertaining!).  The recipe can easily be halved to serve only two, OR make the full recipe and enjoy one set of cakes one day and enjoy them again the next day.   Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes are delicious as-is, or topped with your favorite ice cream.  I had vanilla bean on hand, which was classic and tasty, but I am drooling over the idea of a salted caramel ice cream topping these cakes.

Since I made the full recipe for the two of us, we got to enjoy Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes two nights in a row.  I’m pretty sure Valentine’s Day is going to become one of our favorite holidays now, if it means special desserts like this! 

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (if not making ahead). Spray four 6 to 8 ounce ramekins with cooking spray, place on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a double boiler (or a mixing bowl placed over simmering water), melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from heat and mix in 2 tablespoons sugar and then egg yolks and vanilla, stirring until until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff and glossy.
  4. Fold ⅓ egg white mixture into chocolate mixture, gently stirring to combine. Add the rest of the egg whites, gently folding until combined. Divide evenly among prepared ramekins. (If making ahead, stop here. Cover cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake).
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cakes puff up and the tops begin to crack. Be careful not to over bake. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out gooey. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with ice cream, if desired.

 

Source:  Everyday Food, December 2006

Lemon Buttermilk Cake


We had a special surprise arrive last Friday ~ our baby decided to arrive a little early!  Naturally, when there is a birthday, there must be a birthday cake.  This Lemon Buttermilk Cake is quick and easy enough for a sleepy mama to whip together in minutes.  It’s not only simple to make, but the lemon cake is perfectly lemon-y, refreshing and delicious.  To dress it up, I added a simple lemon buttermilk glaze to drizzle over the loaf, with some extra to drizzle on the slices.  This cake is so good as-is, but the glaze adds a little something that makes it feel extra special.  Adam could not get enough of the baby’s birthday cake, and I discovered that despite not being a frosting person, he loves glaze.  Who can blame him!

Now to the baby details!  We had a baby girl named Greta Rose.  She is an easy baby so far and super sweet.  Seems fitting I guess, because the same could be said about Lemon Buttermilk Cake! 🙂




Lemon Buttermilk Cake
 
Yields: 8 to 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (finely grated, approx 2 lemons)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (approx 1½ lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon(s) buttermilk, well-shaken
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8"x4" loaf pan with baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, add the sugar, oil, buttermilk, eggs, zest, juice and vanilla and whisk to combine.
  4. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To prepare glaze, in a small bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, lemon juice and buttermilk until well-blended. Drizzle over cooled cake, as desired.

Sources: Real Simple for the cake, Cooking Light for the glaze