Monday, October 31, 2016

Pumpkin Butter & Cranberry Cookies

This fall-inspired recipe for Pumpkin Butter & Cranberry Cookies is healthy enough to eat for breakfast. These cookies are flourless and contain no butter or oil.

Happy Halloween! We have had the best weather this fall, with warmer than average weekend temps and no hard freeze {yet}. That's going to continue today for Halloween, with temperatures in the low 60s. Our neighborhood is super popular for trick-or-treating so I'm afraid we are going to run out of candy even earlier this year with the warm weather. Hopefully 1,000 pieces will be enough?!

Before I open any of these bags, I'm going to make sure I have plenty of healthy snacks available. Like these Pumpkin Butter & Cranberry Cookies.

When my mom visited last month, she brought me a jar of pumpkin butter. I've tried pumpkin butter before but not for a few years, and I always forget about it in favor of apple butter. No more - pumpkin butter is sooo good! I have been adding it to my oatmeal in the morning and I thought using it in cookies would be even better.

I was right - pumpkin butter in cookies works really well. I made this version flourless by using almond flour and a small amount of old fashioned oats.

I also left out the sugar because pumpkin butter is already sweetened. This created a very lightly sweet cookie that you can feel good about eating for breakfast. However, if you like a little more sweetness I recommend adding 1/4 cup of brown sugar to this recipe.

I love the sweet bite that comes from dried cranberries too. These cookies would also be tasty with dried cherries or even chocolate chips.

Enjoy and have a great last day of October!

Pumpkin Butter & Cranberry Cookies
Yields: 1 dozen cookies

1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup pumpkin butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

*Optional: 1/4 cup brown sugar

How to~
*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
*Mix the wet ingredients - egg, pumpkin butter, and vanilla extract.
*Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl - almond flour,  oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.
*Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in the dried cranberries.
*Use a medium cookie scoop to place cookies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Lightly press each cookie with a fork to flatten.
*Bake for ~12 to 14 minutes, or until light brown on the bottom.

Last year's Halloween post: Chocolate Pumpkin Energy Bites

Monday, October 24, 2016

Chocolate Orange Fig Bites

I have a new, no bake energy bites recipe to share that's perfect for creating a healthy snack this week with no added sugar: Chocolate Orange Fig Bites.

The fall colors are really coming in this week in my neighborhood and I can't stop snapping photos! A few of my favorites from a walk this weekend:

Another thing I can't stop is snacking on these Chocolate Orange Fig Bites. I may have snacked on three at various times yesterday for a quick bite between meals. These bites are super easy to make in a food processor and contain only a few ingredients.

The special ingredient is one that you don't usually find in energy bites: dried figs. I love dried figs, especially since we can buy them easily at a variety of local stores in our Chicago neighborhood. It was only recently that I realized how healthy figs are - they contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as vitamins A, E, and K. {source} I like using dried figs since they are available year-round and have a delicious flavor and chewy texture.

I combined my dried figs with Medjool dates, unsweetened cocoa powder, raw almonds, and orange extract for this snack recipe. This recipe is inspired by a similar chocolate orange post from last summer: No Bake Chocolate Orange Cookies.

I think this new snack version with figs is even better.

Chocolate Orange Fig Bites
Yields: 12-13 bites

1 cup raw almonds
6 Medjool dates**
6 dried figs
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons orange extract

**If your dates aren't fresh, soak for a few hours or overnight in milk or water. I soaked mine overnight in almond milk, and drained the dates before adding to my food processor.

How to~
*Add all ingredients to a food processor. Process the mixture a few times. Stop the processor and use a spatula to re-combine the mix if needed.
*Keep processing until the ingredients are evenly combined, using the "pulse" function.
*Remove from the food processor and use a medium cookie scoop and your hands to form the mix into balls.
*Bites will last chilled for one week, and a few months in the freezer.

Looking for more no-bake healthy snack ideas? Check out these recipes:

PB&J Energy Bites
Meyer Lemon Snack Bars
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Bites
Chocolate Strawberry Coconut Energy Bites
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Energy Bites
Key Lime Pie Energy Bites
Lemon Coconut Pie Energy Bites
Chocolate Pumpkin Energy Bites
Peach Pie Energy Bites

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Apple Cider Breakfast Muffins

This healthy recipe for Apple Cider Breakfast Muffins is a delicious way to get your apple fix this fall, using apple cider, applesauce, apple pie spice, and baking apples.

This post contains affiliate links.

I know Pumpkin Spice Lattes get all the love during the fall season, but my favorite warm beverage is by far a mug of hot apple cider. A few years ago I created a recipe for muffins incorporating apple cider, and I decided to pull it out and dust it off with a few updates. This version turned out even more delicious!

I packed as much apple flavor as possible into these muffins by adding apple cider, applesauce, baking apples, and Apple Pie Spice.

I also included whole wheat flour to create a healthier muffin option that's perfect for breakfast or snack time.

I'm now in the third trimester of my pregnancy and I am finding myself h.u.n.g.r.y. - especially during afternoon hours. I'm trying to tame the afternoon hanger by preparing healthy snacks, and these muffins will definitely fit the bill.

I hope you enjoy!
Apple Cider Breakfast Muffins
Yields: 16 muffins

1 1/4 cups all-purpose {white} flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup apple cider
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 baking apples
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon Apple Pie Spice or ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

How to~
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients - eggs, applesauce, cider, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla, until smooth.
*Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in the chopped apples.
*Spoon batter into muffin cups or a greased muffin tin.
*Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower & Rutabega Soup

This fall-inspired vegetarian recipe for Roasted Cauliflower & Rutabega Soup is healthy, easy to make, and perfect for chilly nights.

Three years ago, during the first few months of this blog, I posted a soup recipe using cauliflower and rutabega. I remember it being really delicious so over the weekend, I dug through the archives to dust it off. I think version 2 turned out even better!

This soup is full of delicious, good for you ingredients, with cauliflower and rutabega as the stars. It also includes carrots, celery, and herbal flavors from rosemary and thyme.

Rutabega doesn't get enough love as a fall vegetable, in my opinion. Rutabega is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage, and has a similar texture to potatoes. Roasting it really brings out a nice flavor, making it perfect for this soup. For more ideas on how to use rutabega, check out this article from the kitchn: Why You Should Give Rutabega a Chance.

The most important step of this soup is to roast your cauliflower florets and cubed rutabega before adding to your dutch oven or soup pot. Roasting these vegetables first adds a lot of flavor to this soup.

I also stirred in 3/4 cup of white cheddar cheese at the end, and as a topping. This soup created leftovers for several nights this week, and we paired it with grilled cheese sandwiches too. Go crazy with your toppings :)

Roasted Cauliflower & Rutabega Soup
Yields: 6 servings

1 head cauliflower
1 rutabega
1 yellow onion
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
3 carrots
4 celery stalks
4 cups vegetable broth {or chicken broth}
3/4 cup white cheddar cheese {shredded}
2+ Tablespoons avocado oil
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons whole rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

How to~
*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop the cauliflower florets and peel and chop the rutabega.
*Toss cauliflower and rutabega with 1+ Tablespoons avocado oil and season with black pepper and salt. Bake for 25 minutes. {Note: I needed to use two pans due to the volume of vegetables that needed roasting}.
*While the vegetables are roasting, chop the onion, shallot, garlic, celery, and carrots.
*Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over low heat. Saute the onion, shallot, and garlic for ~3 minutes.
*Add chopped celery and carrots and saute for an additional ~10 minutes.
*Add the broth. When the vegetables are done roasting, carefully pour them into the dutch oven and bring the soup to a boil.
*Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.
*Let the soup cool for 5 minutes before blending with an immersion blender {make sure the vegetables are soft enough - if not, continue simmering for an extra 10 minutes}.
*After the soup is pureed, stir in the grated cheese until smooth.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Mousse

This week has been as dreary and cloudy as October can be, with a full day of rain and humidity today before cooler fall weather this weekend. I needed a little pick-me-up and found it in this no bake Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Mousse! This recipe is super easy to make and incorporates my favorite pumpkin pie flavors.

This post contains affiliate links.

Cooking with yogurt has been on my mind recently, starting with sharing my Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Bars a few weeks ago. I like the way yogurt can lighten up a recipe without missing out on any flavors. I created this easy Greek yogurt mousse to satisfy a pumpkin pie craving {typical}, using my favorite Le Creuset Mini Cocotte dishes that I received as a Christmas gift last year.

What a beautiful dessert, right? Here is the mousse, pre-toppings:

And post-toppings! The more the merrier on toppings, in my opinion. I added mini chocolate chips, whipped cream {from a can - no judgment} and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. Adding graham cracker crumbs would also be delicious.

This mousse is very easy to make. All I did was heat pumpkin puree {not pumpkin pie filling}, pure maple syrup, spices, and vanilla extract in a small pan on low for ~5 minutes. Lighting cooking the pumpkin puree before adding the yogurt really brings out the flavor.

After cooking, I let the mixture chill for a few minutes before stirring in the Greek yogurt. If you can wait, the last step is to refrigerate the mousse for at least 30 minutes before adding toppings and serving.

I made this pumpkin dessert for two and K and I enjoyed it after dinner this evening. You can easily double or triple this recipe if you're feeding more people. I hope you enjoy this mousse as much as I did!

Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Mousse
Yields: 2 servings

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
4 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup 2% Greek yogurt

Toppings {optional}~
Mini chocolate chips
Whipped cream
Pumpkin pie spice
Graham cracker crumbs

How to~
*Add pumpkin puree, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, ground cinnamon, and vanilla extract to a small saucepan.
*Mix all ingredients and heat on "low", stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
*Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
*Stir in Greek yogurt until mixture is smooth.
*Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, covered.
*Add toppings before serving. I used mini chopped chips, whipped cream, and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Afternoon Tea at The Allis {Soho House Chicago}

Just like that, it's October! I had a whirlwind last week of September, starting with a lovely baby shower thrown by K's family last weekend. My mom also visited for the week, and we got a lot accomplished for the baby's nursery. We also relaxed for a few hours with a last minute stop for late afternoon tea service at The Allis before she left town. The Allis is located at the Soho House Chicago hotel in West Loop.

Today I'm sharing a photo recap of our afternoon tea date. The Soho House hotel is located inside The Allis building, which is a historic industrial warehouse that was built in 1907. The Allis is described as a "social space" that serves food all day, including drinks, light bites, entrees, and afternoon tea service. The atmosphere at The Allis is lovely and low key; I highly recommend it for afternoon tea and delicious desserts!

I ordered the Hot Chocolate Pu-erh tea and my mom had the Mallorca Melon, which was our server's favorite tea.

The Hot Chocolate tea tasted amazingly like hot chocolate, without the cloying sweetness you often get in a cup of the good stuff. I made up for this with The Allis' amazing desserts. The first tray included scones with house-made raspberry jam & butter, cream puffs, and lemon curd tarts:

The second tray included berry macaroons, red velvet cupcakes, lemon poppy seed bread, and chocolate ganache cake:

The third tray also included mini sandwiches, with cucumber & cream cheese, smoked salmon, and egg salad. The full spread:

The sandwiches tasted fine, but the desserts really took things up a notch. My absolute favorites included the red velvet cupcake:

And the chocolate ganache cake:

I saved this cake for last and it was worth every chocolatey bite. I also ended up boxing up a few sweets to take home for later. Afternoon tea service at The Allis is $34 per person, or $42 with a glass of rose prosecco. Check out their menu here. The Allis is located at 113-125 N. Green Street in Chicago.

Have you ever tried afternoon tea service?