Kitchen Concoctions

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Whipped Cream and Candied Orange Peel

If you have never tried chocolate and orange together you are sorely missing out! This rich, velvety flourless chocolate cake is finished off with a fluffy orange scented whipped cream and homemade candied orange peel! 

Today is Fat Tuesday and yesterday was the Chinese New Year. Are you celebrating? For us, we usually always celebrate You know, because we love any excuse for a good meal shared with good company.

But something's up with 2016 because so far this year everything has snuck up on me. I know we're only in February, but so far I've missed out on the Super Bowl, Chinese New Year and now Mardi Gras. I know none of these are “major” holidays and really no big deal, but when you are a writer and blogger, one should be on top of and all over these things. I mean holidays like these mean you don't even have to even think of content, since it practically writes itself.

This year, maybe I've just got too much going on or maybe I just haven't had the energy, but I have totally slacked. I even had a one or two recipes for each of these holidays to share but, like I have said, life has totally gotten the best of me.

Even though I am sad that we *only* had Buffalo Chicken Stuffed French Bread (good, but not the real deal) and watched the “big game” at home and I successfully disappointed all my Cajun relatives by missing all the Mardi Gras fun this year, at least there's still many more big and small holidays and celebratory events on the horizon.

Like Valentine's Day this weekend.

After spending many years in the food and beverage industry, out of all the holidays, Valentine's Day is probably my least favorite holiday. So many people *expect* this day to be perfect, even though, since everyone goes out on this day, people must realize “perfection” goes out the window, as service industry people have too much to deal with.

Even though some think Valentine's Day is hokey, we celebrate this holiday pretty much like we do every holiday, with a special dinner at home. To me nothing sounds better than a a big juicy steak, crunchy wedge salad, and something sweet and indulgent for dessert in the comfort of my own home.
If you're like me and staying in for Valentine's Day but want a rich and chocolaty dessert, this cake is for you! I love flourless cakes because they have a fudgy, chocolate center with a flaky top and chewy edges. To make this version extra special, it has an orange spiked whipped cream and homemade candied orange peel for a totally divine dessert!

One Year Ago: Celebrate the Chinese New Year with an Asian Inspired Dinner Party
Two Years Ago: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Bar Pie
Four Years Ago: Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Romantic Dinner at Home
Five Years Ago: Seven Tips to Throw a Superbowl Party
Six Years Ago: Stir-Fried Chicken

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Whipped Cream and Candied Orange Peel
Peel Prep Time: 30 minutes Bake Time: 30 minutes Serves: 8
Printable Version

Rich and velvety chocolate cake with fluffy orange scented whipped cream and candied orange peel. 

Flourless Chocolate Cake:
2 (4-ounce) dark chocolate baking bars, chopped
1 cup unsalted European-style butter, cubed
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

For Serving:
4-5 tablespoons powdered sugar
Orange Whipped Cream (recipe below)
Candied Orange Peels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using 1 tablespoon butter, grease an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment paper, and greasing the parchment paper with an additional tablespoon of butter. Set aside. 

Heat a small saucepan filled with 2-3 inches of water over medium-high heat. Top with a metal or glass bowl, to form a double boiler, and add chopped chocolate to bowl and stir continuously until chocolate is completely melted. Once chocolate is melted, add the remaining butter a little at a time, continuously stirring until all of the butter is added and fully melted. Quickly stir in sugar and set aside to cool slightly.

Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture one at time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in cocoa powder. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the center of the cake is set and the top is shiny and begins to crack.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes; then carefully invert the cake onto a plate, to remove it from the pan. Carefully invert the cake onto another plate or cake stand, so that the crackly side is facing upward again.

Allow the cake to cool completely (the cake will deflate slightly as it cools) before serving. Serve at room temperature topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, orange whipped cream and candied orange peels.

adapted from Food52 and Patrica's Table 

Orange Whipped Cream 
Prep Time: 15 minutes Yields: approximately 2 cups whipped cream
Printable Version

Fluffy, homemade whipped cream with a hint of orange

1 pint heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 large navel orange, zested
2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar, orange zest and juice until soft peaks are formed.

Serve immediately or store in an air tight container for 2-3 days.

Note: If making in advance, whip cream until stiff peaks form to hold up in fridge.

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Mini Dark Chocolate Cranberry Orange Tarts
One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes (Eggless)
Chocolate Mousse Pie
Chocolate Strawberry Brownie Kisses
Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Sauce Drizzle

Friday, February 5, 2016

Teedo's Famous Salsa {The Picky Palate Cookbook Review}

Chips and salsa are a party staple! Whip up a batch of simple blender salsa with a hint of creamy avocado and earthy cilantro for your next get together. 

When I first started blogging way, way back in 2009; one thing that I really wanted to do instead of just share favorite family recipes was to share cookbook reviews and as much information, tips and tricks that I could about food and cooking. As quickly as I started blogging I started sharing some of my favorite cookbooks. I have always loved cookbooks since I vividly remember my grandmother and Mom having massive cookbook collections and I have soon caught up to them.

In the early years of the blog, I started just sharing the cookbooks I liked, no recipes, no formal review, not much. Through the years, inspired by other bloggers and professional food writers, I have definitely amped up my cookbook review skills. I first did this with a “cookbook of the month” series featuring one recipe a week for a month from one cookbook, then doing a recap at the end of the month. This was stressful, having to cook from one cookbook and share about it every week. I then transitioned my cookbook reviews into one time events, sharing one recipe I had made and detailed information I found useful. While making only one recipe was less time consuming, I felt that I was just picking up a cookbook making one thing then tossing it aside. Plus, even though I was just making one recipe, cookbook reviews are still time consuming for me to type up (see all the detailed info below), and so I got behind and then I found that I was reviewing a cookbook that was so 2000nlate and wouldn't bother to share it any more. Hence why my last cookbook review was in 2014!

Recently I have been given several cookbooks as gifts and have turned to my cookbook collection to help burst the bored with dinner bubble. These cookbooks are a wealth of knowledge and filled with great recipes; and I have realized I missed “reading” them and sharing them with you.

So one of my many goals for 2016 is to get back to doing cookbook reviews. Reviews that are even better than before. Like in my early cookbook reviews, I will test a few recipes from the cookbook, because how can one recipe tell the fate of the cookbook, and then share my findings in one blog post and overall cookbook review.

Oh, and I have totally gotten over the fear of sharing a cookbook that is “older” as I know there is no way I can afford or have the time to pick up and thoroughly review every.single.cookbook as soon as it comes out. Which, since the beauty of cookbooks is that they are pretty much timeless, then a cookbook that came out today or five years ago is still good if it has great content.

Today's cookbook is The Picky Palate Cookbook by fellow blogger Jenny Flake. Much like the blog Picky Palate, the cookbook is fun and fill of easy family friendly and kid approved recipes. From breakfast to “Greens and Things” (sides and salads) to desserts to satisfy your “Sweet Tooth” this cookbook as got you covered!

Pictures: Yes, this cookbook is filled with beautiful photos professional photos. Not all of the recipes have pictures but there is a photo of a recipe every few pages.

Prep Time, Cooking Time, and Number of Servings listed: Yes and no. There is no prep or cook time; however there is the number of servings listed at the bottom of each recipe.

Nutritional Information Provided: No

Clear, easy to follow directions and ease of preparation: Yes, all of the recipes seem very easy to make and are geared towards busy families.

Easily available ingredients and budget friendly: Yes! Again, very easy and family friendly recipes. Variety of recipes: This cookbook has got you covered with breakfast, dinner (meat free and a variety of protein dishes), sides and salads, appetizers and desserts.

Special feature: This cookbook is simple and to the point. It is perfectly organized and Jenny shares little stories before each recipe, just like on her blog. It is a hard back book, but spiral bound, for easy ready and is perfect for laying on counters while cooking directly from it.

So far I have made (all pictured):
Teedo's Famous Salsa (recipe below)
Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hearty Ham and Cheddar Corn Chowder

Other recipes I have bookmarked:
Cheesy Pepperoni Quick Bread
Ricotta-Stuffed Spinach and Broccoli Pizza Pie
Blueberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Slow Cooked Italian Beef and Pesto Stew

Are you a cookbook fanatic? If so what are your favorite cookbooks?

Today I decided to share Teedo's Famous Salsa (by the way, Teedo is the nick name Jenny gave her Dad) recipe from the cookbook. This salsa is so easy to whip up and has a nice creamy texture from the addition of avocados – perfect for smothering tacos or paired with a bag of chips while watching a big football game!

Teedo's Famous Salsa
Prep Time: 10 minutes Yields: approximately 2 ½ cups
Printable Version

Simple blender salsa with a hint of creamy avocado and earthy cilantro; perfect for chips or tacos.

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chilies
4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
½ - 1 cup fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
½ lime, juiced
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 avocados, peeled and seeded

Place all ingredients, except avocados, into blender or food processor and pulse to desired consistency. Add avocados and plus a few more times or until desired consistency. Serve at once, or pour into a food storage container and refrigerate for up to one week.

adapted from The Picky Palate Cookbook

Other Picky Palate Cookbook Reviews From Around the Web:

Vegetable Lime Chickpea Chili {Two Peas and Their Pod}
Maple-Bacon Muffins with Sweet Butter {A Well Seasoned Life}
Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies {Bakerella}
Cheesy Skillet Pasta with Meat Sauce {Marla Meredith}

Note: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which helps support Kitchen Concoctions. Thank you for supporting Kitchen Concoctions.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Star Studded Red Carpet Party

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. AD #EntertainandPair #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

The glitz and glamour of Hollywood may be a thousand miles away, but that doesn't mean we can't have our own red carpet fun! Check out all my tips and ideas on how to host your own star studded red carpet party for your friends and family in the comfort of your own home!

Eeek! Hollywood awards season is here! Are you excited or could you care less? For as long as I can remember, I have watched the various awards shows on TV. I mean I have always been somewhat of a movie/TV/music buff, but only watched the awards shows, if I am being honest, probably because my “regular” TV show for that night was a rerun.

But then a few years ago, we met our friends J and C. They are huge movie fanatics, like if you ever go to do trivia you definitely want them on your team. So of course it came as no surprise that when awards season rolled around, that's ALL they talked about. Who and what was nominated, the awards host, the red carpet fashion, etc. They even had a huge awards night watching party. No, not like, hey you want to come watch the awards show? But more like, let's literally roll out our own red carpet, get dressed to the nines, and sip and nibble on all kinds of fancy food while we watch the show. They even had an awards show “pool”. You know like how some people have pools or brackets for big sports events, they do one with all the big categories and nominations, and then have guests pick who they think will win.

Until I met J and C I never realized or even thought to make the awards shows into an event or even thought about how fun it could be! After attending our first party with them, I couldn't help but get equally as excited year after year for the annual awards ceremonies, even hosting our own watching party! Since all the award shows are coming up, and I love any excuse to throw a special themed party, I thought I would share some red carpet party plans and tips with you today so that you can also freak out over who's wearing what at the next red carpet event!

Not only would this star studded movie inspired party be amazing for the awards shows, it would be perfect for a more “dressed up” movie night any time of the year. Check out all the fun party details below!

Star Studded Red Carpet Party:

The Decor:
For our movie/Hollywood awards party, I wanted to incorporate not only the “red carpet” theme but have a “star studded” glitzy event! I went with black, gold and sliver colors with a hint of red. Since I wanted to incorporate the “star studded” theme, the food table backdrop (simply a decorated tablecloth) had stars in the black/gold/sliver color scheme. Other star decorations included black and sliver (and gold if you choose) star balloons, silver star cupcake toppers, gold star centerpieces and I even used gold star cutouts as food labels; you know like the Hollywood walk of fame! I had wanted to add gold/sliver star confetti to the table and platter of wine glasses, but unfortunately could not find any. Maybe next time!

I used a basic black tablecloth for the food table and placed a red fabric table runner on top to represent the red carpet. Other table top decor included a movie clapboard, a black fedora, and gold streamers. 

For paper goods and drinking glasses I kept things simple, again going with the gold and sliver theme. I bought gold/sliver decorated napkins and plates and then hand painted inexpensive stemless wine glasses with gold and sliver circles. This really did not take long and I knocked out about 8 glasses while watching a few TV shows several nights before the party.

Food and Drinks: 
Since I wanted a “classy” movie inspired party, I wanted to keep the food somewhat simple, think movie snacks, as well as serve some wine. When we host parties for our friends, I always like to pick a selection of wine to pair with the food that we are serving as well as varieties of wine I know my friends enjoy. Recently at another dinner party, my friend served The Dreaming Tree Wines. She raved and raved about this wine, but up until then I had never heard of it. However, I am so glad that she shared this wine with us! Not only did The Dreaming Tree California Pinot Noir pair well with grilled steak and mushroom rissotto my friend served for dinner that night, I was happy to learn that The Dreaming Tree Wines are a creative collaboration between world renowned musician Dave Matthews and award- winning winemaker Sean McKenzie. The Dreaming Tree Wines are also environmentally conscious as their labels are made from recycled paper and they use natural corks that are recyclable.

Since I was so impressed with The Dreaming Tree Wines, I decided to serve it at our red carpet party. Not only did the, toasty, crisp and elegant Central Coast Chardonnay pair well with the veggie platter and white bean dip I served; the classic blackberry and cherry aromas of the North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon was perfect paired with the rich and chocolaty Red Velvet Black and White Cookies and barkTHINS® snacking chocolate I served for dessert.

Other menu items included, Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips with chunky salsa, vanilla cupcakes (decorated with sliver sprinkles and sliver star cupcake toppers, of course!), and a popcorn bar with three different sweet and savory popcorn flavors!

The popcorn bar was probably one of the highlights of the entire party! A movie themed party wouldn't be complete without popcorn and a trio of different flavored “gourmet” popcorn was a hit with all my party guests! Popcorn is so cheap to make, yet so easy to dress up that it is perfect party food! For our red carpet party I served Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn, Cranberry Apple Cinnamon Popcorn and Sweet Heat Caramel Corn. I made the flavored popcorn in advance and then served it in large clear containers that guests could then scoop into individual popcorn bags that I had displayed next to the popcorn containers. Another option, would be to have a large bowl of plain popcorn, then have smaller bowls or containers of store bought or homemade popcorn seasonings for guests to add themselves.

Other menu suggestions for a Star Studded Red Carpet Party would be a cheese platter, cheese dip, steak roll ups, shrimp kabobs, chocolate covered strawberries, star shaped sandwiches, etc. You could even serve a menu filled with foods inspired by your favorite movie!

Other Red Party Ideas: 
Encourage guests to dress up! Just because you are hosting the party in your own home doesn't mean you and your guests can't dress the part and have their own red carpet fashion show!

Create a movie trivia game! Research movie facts, quotes, filming locations, etc. and put them together in a trivia game. You could even play charades using only movies or more specifically only movies/actors/characters from this year's nominated movies.

Set up a movie photo booth. Gather movie inspired props or set up a Hollywood/red carpet back drop and allow guests to take a red carpet selfie. You could even purchase celebrity cutouts for more selfie fun!

Looking at all these party photos has me eagerly awaiting our next movie night/red carpet event! :)

For more information about The Dreaming Tree Wines, visit them online and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and PinterestBe sure to check out your local retailer for wine tasting demos!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lemon Ricotta Oatmeal with Blueberries and Almonds

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. AD #BringYourBestBowl #Target #CollectiveBias 

Wake up and get your day started with a hearty bowl of oatmeal! This tangy, creamy oatmeal topped with fresh blueberries and crunchy almonds, is a great way to fuel up for a busy day!  

How do your mornings start? Are you running around like crazy trying to get ready for work or get the kids out the door? Are you up and at 'em bright and early knocking out an intense workout? Or are you so not a morning person and have to ease into the day to avoid any possible grouchiness?

For me, I have usually always been a morning person, but many years ago, I detested the mornings since it meant getting up bright and early to rush out the door, sit an hour in traffic, to go to a job I did not like. Thankfully, in more recent years as my life has changed quite a bit, I have started embracing mornings again.

In fact, I love getting up while the sky is still dark and watching the sun slowly roll in over the horizon. I love sitting on my porch with a piping hot cup of coffee, my paper planner in my lap and my mind clear as I begin to plan my day. Once I have sipped every lost drop of coffee, I grab some breakfast and extend my golden hour for a few more minutes before I am forced to get the day going. I am grateful for this little early morning ritual, as it allows me to focus on being my best self and reminds me that I can take on the day!

As I have mentioned before, my normal breakfast options are fruit and yogurt parfaits or smoothies, if life is calling and I have to cut my morning routine short. But to be honest, I have gotten kind of bored with these “go to” breakfast choices. So I decided I needed to change things up and add a little variety back into my morning routine. Recently, when I was running an errand at Target, I spotted a special display for Quaker® Oats, which included several “mix in” suggestions. I was instantly reminded that at one time in my life, oatmeal was the only thing I ever ate for breakfast because I loved how filling it was and how I could change it up - like a million different ways. So, I decided to grab a big container of Quaker® Oats and a bunch of “mix ins” while I was at Target that day and have since revamped my morning breakfast.

Oatmeal is the perfect blank canvas for all kinds of sweet and savory flavor profiles. It is so easy to change up each morning by adding fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, over easy eggs, bacon or sauteed veggies. Over the years I have shared countless oatmeal recipes and it has been way to long. To bring back my love of oatmeal, today I am sharing another recipe this time for Lemon Ricotta Oatmeal with Blueberries and Almonds. And not to toot my own horn or anything, but this is probably one of my best bowls of oatmeal yet!

This bowl of oatmeal was actually inspired by my mother-in-law. Unfortunately, due to some recent surgery, she has been bed ridden for a couple of weeks. To help her out, I have been cooking and bringing meals to her. Since she is Italian, she has been asking me to bring some of her favorite Italian foods. Ricotta is a staple in a lot of sweet and savory Italian dishes and I love how well lemon pairs with it. One morning after making my mother-in-law some dinner the night before, I had a little ricotta leftover and decided to throw it in my oatmeal. Paired with a few other simple ingredients and just a few short minutes later, I was in oatmeal heaven!

This velvety, tart and tangy oatmeal is topped with plump, juicy blueberries and crunchy almonds for the perfect bowl of oatmeal! I have had it for breakfast several mornings in a row and can't get enough! Since I am back to enjoying a big bowl of oats each morning for breakfast, I'm curious, what are your favorite oatmeal mix ins? Please share in the comments below!

Lemon Ricotta Oatmeal with Blueberries and Almonds
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5-8 minutes Serves: 1
Printable Version

Tangy, creamy oatmeal topped with fresh blueberries and crunchy almonds. 

¾ cup milk of choice
¾ cup water
¾ cup Quaker® Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
½ tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
1 lemon, zested

3 tablespoons fresh blueberries
1-2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in milk, water, oats and honey; bringing mixture to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and oats are tender.

Remove from heat and stir in ricotta cheese and lemon zest. Serve immediately topped with blueberries and almonds.

Do you love to get your day going with a big bowl of oatmeal? Think you have the best bowl of oats in town? Enter the national "Bring Your Best Bowl" sweepstakes for a chance to inspire the next Quaker® Oats flavor! Top recipe entries will be created and sold in stores for a limited time in Fall 2016 and you could win $250,000! Contest starts January 2016 and ends March 12, 2016, with the winner announced November 2016. Recipe entries should contain between two and five ingredients (not including the oatmeal product, water and/or milk). For recipe ideas and ingredient inspiration, look for special displays at your local Target.

For more information, check out select Quaker® Instant Oats (Original and Maple Brown Sugar) and Quaker® Oatmeal Canisters (Old Fashioned and Quick One Minute) or visit the national "Bring Your Best Bowl" sweepstakes website for details and official contest rules.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Double Chocolate Almond Cookies

These Double Chocolate Almond Cookies are rich and chocolaty and make a ton! Perfect for satisfying a chocolate craving and sharing with a friend! 

I have never had cable. Ever. In my entire life. Well I take that back. There were two different times, years and years ago, when I lived in apartments where the cable and internet were included with the rent. Other than that, never.

For most of my life I have enjoyed TV the good 'ole fashioned way, having to adjust tin foil wrapped “bunny ears” hoping to get our favorite stations static free. Then came along Netfilx and Hulu and it was so fancy and we felt like we were up on the times as we could *almost* watch all the same shows as our cable watching friends.

Then recently we were able to get basic cable for mere pennies, so we hooked it up. I love having HGTV or the Food Network on in the background as I fold laundry or edit photos. These shows have me dreaming of living abroad, owning a beach house, or actually thinking I can buy some run down houses, flip them in two weeks and make thousands.

Other days I am yelling at the TV trying to tell TV chefs to “hurry... the clock is ticking” or cringing as some chef makes some error in their prep – all caught on camera – but ultimately pinning a million more recipes to my 50 food related Pinterest boards.

Today's recipe comes from a day of Food Network binge watching enjoyment. Ina Garten had Kathleen King, the founder and owner of the famous South Hampton bakery Tate's Bake Shop, on Barefoot Contessa as a guest. Ina and Kathleen swapped baking tips and tricks while making these cookies. As soon as I heard everything that went into these cookies, chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate; oh and almonds too – I instantly stopped what I was doing to watch these glorious cookies being made. And then I had to make them, exactly a week later, which is a record for me. You see, normally when I “pin” a recipe it might take months or even years before I get around to making it. Since Tate's Bake Shop is so famous for their amazing cookies and since these cookies looked so good on TV, I HAD to make them! Good thing these cookies lived up to the famous Tate reputation! They were dense and extra chocolaty and I loved the special addition of almonds. Be warned, this recipe makes a bakery sized batch of cookies, perfect if you have a major chocolate craving or if you choose, for sharing with friends!

One Year Ago: How To Make Candied Orange Peel
Two Years Ago: Dr Pepper Chili
Three Years Ago: Winter Squash and Root Vegetable Black Bean Chili (Slow Cooker)
Four Years Ago: Homemade Pizza Sauce
Five Years Ago: Texas Style Chili and How To Throw a Football Party on a Budget
Six Years Ago: Better Than Mama’s Chili Mac

Tate's Bake Shop Double Chocolate Almond Cookies
Prep Time: 25 minutes Bake Time: 10-12 minutes Yields: approximately 3 dozen cookies
Printable Version

Dense chocolate cookies packed with rich dark chocolate, creamy white chocolate and crunchy almond pieces. 

2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 ½ cups semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup raw almonds, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the room temperature butter until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and continue beating at medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract and mix well. Add the flour mixture and continue mixing just until combined. Add the chocolates and almonds and mix until combined.

Using a tablespoon or a medium-sized cookie scoop, drop the dough two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.

Cool cookies on baking sheets for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies should be very soft when they are removed from the oven. Cookies will firm up as they cool. 

Adapted from Kathleen King as seen on the Barefoot Contessa

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Chocolate Turtle Cookies
S'more Cookies
Chocolate Blossom Bites
Peanut Butter M&M's® Cookies {Plus Four Tips for a Fun & Successful Game Night In}
No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Parfaits

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. AD #StartWithJifPowder #CollectiveBias 

The classic flavor combination, peanut butter and banana, comes together in a delicious breakfast parfait with layers of creamy peanut butter flavored yogurt, fresh bananas and a quick and easy ten minute skillet granola. 

I mentioned last week that my focus for 2016 was to get stronger. That I not only wanted to get stronger physically and get back into a fitness routine, but want to have stronger relationships, have a stronger grip on my finances, be a stronger contributor to my community and to be more organized in my life.

Being stronger and more organized, not only regarding this blog but in all areas of my life, is definitely a top priority on my journey to embrace the “New Year New You” mentality. Like most people, my life is extremely hectic as I try to juggle many tasks and balance all the things this beautiful life has to offer. From blogging (and all the little time consuming tasks that come with it) to other work and projects, to general household chores and errands and of course fun things like evenings spent enjoying dinner with friends or cuddling up to watch a new movie or finally read that best seller!

One thing that helps me accomplish all of these things is meal planning, not only our dinners but consciously thinking about and planning out all of our other meals including breakfast, lunch and snacks. You see, normally when I go grocery shopping, I bring my list of things we need for dinners or items we are out of and then just throw random things into the cart for breakfast or lunch. Not only does this mean I often spend more than I plan, I often don't even get things to put together in a real meal. Like have you ever gotten home and realized you only had bread and nothing to sandwich in between it? Or, maybe that's just me.... Anyways, in an effort to be more organized, I have really started to try and put some thought into all of our meals and food purchases. Not only does this mean I am not going over budget, it keeps us from wasting food- little steps to make me stronger financially! 

Keeping all this in mind, when I was getting ready to do some grocery shopping recently, I wrote down some things on my shopping list to pick up for breakfast and lunch. One of my favorite things for breakfast is fruit and yogurt parfaits. I mean that and smoothies is pretty much the ONLY things I ever eat for breakfast. So to my shopping list, I added all my favorite smoothie and parfait ingredients and headed to Walmart. While roaming the aisles, making sure I got everything on my list, I discovered some new Jif Peanut Powder. I love adding a spoonful of peanut butter to my smoothies and so when I saw this I was instantly intrigued. I have heard of peanut powders before, but was always skeptical. Then I read that Jif Peanut Powder, is made of just one ingredient, fresh roasted peanuts (with no added sugar or salt), and has all the protein benefits as traditional peanut butter, but with 85% less fat. I was sold and I decided I would give it a try!

Anxious to try the peanut powder, I decided to add it to my favorite breakfast and these Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Parfaits were born! And let me tell you, I honestly could not believe the peanut butter flavor these parfaits had! So delicious that I seriously can't stop making and eating these for breakfast every morning and even for my afternoon snacks! The ten minute skillet granola is a huge game changer as well! I have always loved making homemade granola but don't always have the time for the lengthy process. Skillet granola is a great way to get that homemade granola that I love, with half the work involved. Score!

I'm off to whip some of this up, but I'm curious, what are your favorite quick and easy breakfast options that include peanut powders? Please share in the comments below!

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Parfaits
{with 10-Minute Skillet Granola}
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves: 2
Printable Version

Creamy peanut butter spiked Greek yogurt, fresh bananas and a quick skillet granola come together in this tasty breakfast parfait. 

10-Minute Skillet Granola:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup Jif Peanut Powder
2 tablespoons flax seed powder (optional)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Peanut Butter Banana Parfait:
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons Jif Peanut Powder
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 small bananas, sliced 

To make granola, melt coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir honey into granola and bring to a boil. Stir in rolled oats, Jif Peanut Powder, ground flax seeds, cinnamon and salt; stirring until oats are evenly coated. Cook for 5 minutes, or until oats are golden brown; stirring occasionally.

Remove granola from heat and transfer to a plate or baking sheet to cool completely (granola will harden some as it cools). Store cooled granola to an airtight container for up to one week.

To make parfait, in a small bowl whisk together honey, Jif Peanut Powder and Greek yogurt; whisking until well combined.

To assemble parfaits, in small glass jars or drinking glasses; spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the prepared yogurt into the bottom of the jar. Top the yogurt with several banana slices and 1-2 tablespoons prepared granola. Repeat layers until jar is filled. Serve immediately.

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