Tag Archives: Christmas

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats 2012

 

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Here begins the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats for 2012! Remember when I participated last year? Well it’s time again! Hard to believe it’s really twelve weeks until Christmas!

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I decided to try something new this year. Last year most of my entries for the blog hop were gluten free (the red velvet cheesecake brownies being the lone exception). This year, I will continue to make all my entries gluten free, but I will also be experimenting with some grain-free options. They are certainly not low-carb in most cases, and keep in mind, treats are treats and I will treat them as such. I make no presumption that these are “healthy,” though I do choose to use real food ingredients and keep dietary limitations in mind. When it all comes down to it, these are for pure enjoyment and seasonal celebration. As they should be!

Now let’s get on to it!

To start things off this year, we’ve got to head right into the pumpkin. And for the record, making these cupcakes required the last of my first stash of canned pumpkin for the season. One of the things I love about pumpkin is that it’s essentially pumpkin season four months out of the year. These translate well from fall right into Christmas time! The fact that I eat pumpkin year-round is entirely beside the point…

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Grain-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes

Adapted from Elana’s Pantry
Makes 1 dozen

1.5 cups raw almonds
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
3 tbsp applesauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp molasses
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combination of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor or high speed blender, combine the almonds, arrowroot, salt, and baking soda together until you get as fine of a meal as possible without turning it into weirdly seasoned almond butter. Then add all the rest of the ingredients and process for an additional 2-5 minutes. This will help smooth the mixture.

Fill a cupcake pan lined with papers with the batter, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-22 minutes. I bake these for a bit longer than I do flour-based cupcakes. This helps the protein structure set a bit better, I think.

Allow to cool completely before frosting. I’ve learned that almond flour-based baked goods tend to taste better the longer they are out of the oven.

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Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter
1/2 package of cream cheese
1 lb powdered sugar (normal powdered sugar contained cornstarch, making this not grain-free. However, organic varieties sometimes use arrowroot in lieu of cornstarch. Or you can blend your own granulated/turbinado/coconut sugar for makeshift powdered sugar)
1 tsp vanilla

In a mixer, whip butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until soft and smooth. Then slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Smear or pipe onto cooled cupcakes!

 

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Here are my submissions to last year’s blog hop!

Oatmeal-Apple Cookies
Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Nutella Cookies
Gingerbread truffles
Aztec Brownie
Orange-Cranberry Scones
Chai Cupcakes

 

 And check out all these other lovely blogs!



Orange-Cranberry Scones, Gluten-Free!

Welcome to this week’s edition of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets!

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I started this week with an idea of making a cranberry-pear tart. Which I attempted. And while it was good, it wasn’t… finished. But then I woke up yesterday morning no longer inspired by a tart. Instead, I wanted to make muffins! No. Muffins are too breakfast-y. Scones? Yes! Scones! Yes, they are a breakfast food, but they also double as a sweet treat, especially drizzled in sweet vanilla icing! In fact, you can serve these for Christmas morning for your extended family, AND make some for a Christmas potluck!

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I love the combination of cranberry and orange. Sweet, tart, citrusy, fresh, and fruity. Perfect for the holidays!

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Gluten Free Orange-Cranberry Scones
Adapted from All Recipes

400 grams (roughly four cups) gluten-free flour mixture of your choice (I use a 2:2:1—by weight—ratio of GF oats, brown rice, and flaxseed flours)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled and diced
1 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
1 grated zest of one orange
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup orange juice
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt with a whisk. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until you achieve a fine meal throughout. Stir in the chopped cranberries and orange zest.

In a separate, small bowl, mix together the half-and-half, orange jusice, and egg until well mixed.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Dollop the batter into to two circular mounds on a greased sheet pan. Using a wet knife, “cut” the batter into wedges.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm.

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Serve with orange juice or a nice steaming mug of coffee! Smile

Nutella Cookies!

Sorry this is a day late for my weekly Thursday editions of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets, but I was sick with the plague on Wednesday and Thursday, but today I am better and I have a real treat for you!

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This recipe takes the flourless peanut butter cookie to a whole new level! These are flourless Nutella cookies! And they are so simple to make!

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Toss all the ingredients in a bowl…

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…stir well…

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Portion out onto a cookie sheet and smoosh with a fork al la peanut butter cookie.

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And bake!

Allow to cool and enjoy!

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I also love that because they are flourless, they are naturally gluten-free! My tummy thanks me tremendously! Smile

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Flourless Nutella Cookies
Recipe from St Petersburg Times

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, like Nutella (you could use Justin’s brand of chocolate hazelnut butter, but it probably wouldn’t be as sweet)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I’ve used “peanut butter spread” types like Peter Pan. OMG. Stay away unless you want fail cookies that taste totally off!)
1 heaping tablespoon natural cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Then portion out dough into 1 tbsp-size balls and place on a cookie sheet. Mash lightly with the prongs of a fork in a criss-cross fashion. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Don’t overbake! You want them to still be soft when you take them out, because they will set outside the oven.

Allow to cool/set.

Enjoy!

Makes about two dozen cookies

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats: Gingerbread Truffles

This recipe requires a little somethin’ special.

So turn on some Christmas music (October, Schmocktober).

Put on a frilly apron (heels optional).

Pour yourself a glass of wine? tea? coffee? cider? any choice beverage.

Pretend it’s cold outside. (It’s 80 degrees here)

And light the fire (or a candle) if it really is!

This recipe, while remarkable and completely delicious in its own right, loves a little ambiance.

And while Christmas may still be a little more than two months away, you can consider this practice for a low-stress, high-love holiday season.

Friends, we’re making gingerbread cookie dough truffles.

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I first made “cookie dough bites” about a year ago. My original recipes were basically a traditional cookie dough recipe with a few changes to make them safe to eat raw and then refrigerated until firm. This wasn’t a problem until I made a chocolate chip variety and they got really soft sitting in the warm dining room at a Christmas party. And shuffling them back and forth from the fridge to keep the right texture was far too much of a hassle.

So I changed up my recipe! Instead of depending on butter to be the stabilizer, I used dates!

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I played around with the food processor until I found the combination of ingredients I liked.

And drizzled them with sweet icing!

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Unlike the butter-based varieties, these stay at the same relative texture at room temperature. Sure, they do firm in the fridge, but they do not become the rocks that the butter kind did, nor do they become sloppy and droopy in a warm room. And this is a major plus, because who wants to babysit the dough balls and the fridge during a party? No one!

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Another plus for these is that despite being drizzled in icing, these are not cloyingly sweet like the original cookie dough recipe. I think they have the right balance of spice, sweet, crunch, and chew without leaving you with a toothache. Smile

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Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Truffles

Makes 20 truffles

12 pitted dates
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or other coarse sugar)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla

Grind the oats as best you can in a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder and pour it into a separate bowl. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the pecans until you get a coarse meal, but be careful not to blend is so much that it turns into pecan butter. That’s another show! Winking smile Add the pecan meal to the bowl with the oat flour.

In the food processor, chop the dates as finely as possible. Then add the oats, flax, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, sugar, and salt and process until well-incorporated. It will look pretty dry.

Add the molasses and vanilla and process again until well mixed. The mixture should be a little sticky but not wet. If you squeeze a bit of “dough” in your grip, it should stick together without leaving a molasses-y streak all over your palm.

Using a disher or a spoon, roll the mixture into 1/2-ounce balls and line on parchment paper. Can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled! Or drizzled in icing!!

Simple Icing

1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk-type drink of your preference (I used unsweetened plain coconut milk)
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Mix the vanilla and “milk” until well combined. Gradually mix in the sifted powdered sugar until smooth. This will take time. And don’t forget to sift or you’ll get clumps that look like curdled milk. Yum.

Check out the other awesome recipes for this week’s blog hop!


What is your favorite flavor of cookie?

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies

Welcome to the 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies! I know, it’s not even October yet. But it’s just about 12 weeks until Christmas, can you believe it?

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The 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies is an annual blog hop series hosted by (this year) by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic, and at last count about 25 other bloggers are participating this this year’s series!

Every Thursday for the next twelve weeks, all we bloggers who have thrown our hats into the ring will share a new cookie/bar/brownie recipe for the quickly approaching holiday season! I understand today’s Friday and not Thursday, but better late than never, right? Winking smile

 

For this week’s installment, I’ve built upon the apple theme for this week and made Oatmeal-Apple Cookies!

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These cookies are granola bar meets apple pie meets cookie! And they’re vegan and gluten-free to boot! A tasty treat you can feel good about! And this recipe is perfect for the entire fall+Christmas season, so don’t feel like you have to wait!

 

Oatmeal-Apple Cookies (Vegan + Gluten Free!)

Adapted from Food.com

3/4 cup coconut oil (at room temperature)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 “flax egg” (1 tbsp flaxseeds, ground, mixed with 3 tbsp hot water, and set aside)
1/4 cup rice milk (or whatever milk-type drink you prefer)
1.5 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste!)
100 g (roughly 1 cup) oat flour (I use an old coffee grinder to grind organic oats because I tolerate them better than gluten-free oats, but non-GF oats are heavily contaminated with gluten, so if you’re on a strict GF diet, use the certified gluten-free oats)
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (the pre-ground nutmeg tastes and smells NOTHING like actual nutmeg! If you don’t want to use a whole nutmeg and grate it yourself, use pre-ground mace. It smells and tastes exactly like fresh nutmeg)
3 cups oats (I used organic rolled oats, but if you are on a strict GF diet, go for certified gluten-free)
1 cup finely diced apple

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat the coconut oil (which is more like a soft butter at room temperature) for about 10 seconds. Then add the sugar and mix that for about 10 seconds. Then add the “flax egg,” rice milk, and vanilla. Mix for an additional 20-30 seconds.

In a separate, medium-sized bowl, combine the oat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until well incorporated. You will probably need to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl on occasion.

Using a spoon or spatula, fold in the oats and finely diced apple into the batter.

Spoon roughly two-tablespoon-sized mounds onto a cookie sheet, leaving about two inches between mounds. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and the cookies are moderately firm.

Enjoy!

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

The Night Before Christmas

Hello, everyone! I know everyone is a-bustle with the holidays, and I certainly am! I’m writing this in advance on Thursday morning so we can hit the road. We’re leaving for the 5 1/2 hour drive to Fort Worth to spend the next week and a half with my family! So exciting! We spent Christmas day with just each other last year, so it will be fun to spend Christmas day with my parents and sisters for the first time in two years. Oh, and I get to meet my new fur-baby! Yes, we have adopted a toy Australian Shepherd. He’s about 3 months old and last my mom told me, he was 8 pounds of fluff. We adopted him from some family friends in Fort Worth, so my parents have been puppy-sitting until we get down there for Christmas! So excited! His name is Casper! Short for “Caspian.” We are such NERDS! Winking smile

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Personally, my Christmas Eve will be spent baking (St Lucia bread, cookie dough balls, Alton Brown’s Pumpkin Pie in Gingersnap Crust…), eating at Pizza Hut and out looking at Christmas lights. Later we’ll each open one gift, and maybe we’ll watch “Santa” on the NBC 10 o’clock news weather forecast. That is, if we’re not drowning in the plethora of Christmas movies we’ve yet to watch this season.

For now, I leave you with this…

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May your holiday be filled with all peace, joy, and love, and may you not forget what the season is really about. God bless you all. Smile

 

Now go spend time with your loved ones! Winking smile

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