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Tag Archives: easy

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

I filled my bowl with peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter and turned on the mixer. As I folded in some crisp rice cereal, the aroma of Christmastime wafted around the kitchen. Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles only seem to come around once a year, but I think I need to change that 😉

After all, these truffles are basically a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup except a zillion times better. I’m talking rich peanut butter filling with a crispy crunch, submerged in decadent semisweet chocolate. Plus they don’t have all the added preservatives and funky oils you get in processed candy bars. So naturally Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles will top anything found in a store.

I’m all about clean eating, but that doesn’t mean I’m anti-dessert. I just use the highest quality, most minimally processed ingredients and cut no corners cooking from scratch. For these truffles, I made sure to use Crazy Richard’s peanut butter which only has one ingredient–peanuts! Just like it should be. I didn’t want to use anything with added sugars or hydrogenated oils found in most conventional peanut butter. However, even among “natural” peanut butters, you find unnecessary ingredients when all you really need is peanuts and maybe salt.

Overall, these Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles are super easy to make. The only challenge I encounter is getting them to look as good as my mom’s! The first few always look the best, but toward the end it becomes nearly impossible to have a perfectly smooth chocolate coating. Either way, they still taste amazing! Plus, you can always pick and choose the best ones to give away or serve at a gathering. If you want them all to look perfect though, you can always melt some extra chocolate. My other tip is to make sure the peanut butter balls are rolled into perfect little spheres. The smoother they are, the smoother the chocolate coating will look.

If you love Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles, give these a try:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

Natural peanut butter filling with a crispy crunch, dipped in smooth, rich chocolate–the perfect holiday truffle!
Prep Time20 mins
Cooling Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate, confectionery, peanut butter, truffle
Servings: 40 truffles
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Crazy Richard's peanut butter
  • ¼ cup salted butter softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12 oz semisweet baking chocolate

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and salt. Using a hand or stand mixer, mix the ingredients until everything is evenly combined.
  • Gently fold in crisp rice cereal.
  • Form the dough into 1 tablespoon-sized balls. Roll them until spherical and place on a sheet of wax paper.
  • Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave. To use the double boiler, add one inch of water to the bottom and melt the chocolate on top. Stir often and be sure not to let any moisture in the chocolate (it will alter the consistency). If using a microwave, go in short intervals and stir often to avoid scorching the chocolate.
  • Individually, place the peanut butter balls in the chocolate. Roll each one around until it is totally covered. Carefully removed with a fork and place on wax paper to cool.
  • When all the truffles are made, they can be placed in the refrigerator for faster cooling time and they can be stored in an airtight container there or in the freezer.
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Caramel Apple Cheesecake

This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season–it features a delicate graham cracker crust, a rich apple spice filling, and is topped with crunchy struesel and gooey, homemade caramel!

Delicate graham cracker crust with a rich apple spice filling, topped with crunchy struesel and gooey caramel!

For as long as I can remember, one of the dessert options at Thanksgiving has been pumpkin cheesecake. Before I took to the kitchen, my mom always made a no-bake version and it was really good! Then a few years ago, I discovered the art of cheesecake-making from scratch and took charge of holiday desserts–Pumpkin with Chocolate Ganache for Thanksgiving and Chocolate Peppermint for Christmas.

The other thing is that fall and Christmas are my absolute jam and I’m very stringent about holding to all the family traditions. But then this Caramel Apple Cheesecake happened. And after some discussion and family taste-testing, we’ve concluded it needs to make an appearance at this Thanksgiving. Give the recipe a try and I bet you’ll be wanting to do the same! It’s pretty involved though, so read through the whole thing before getting started.

Other Cheesecake Recipes to Try:

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season–it features a delicate graham cracker crust, a rich apple spice filling, and is topped with crunchy struesel and gooey, homemade caramel!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, cake, caramel, cheesecake, fall dessert, streusel
Servings: 8 slices
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Filling

  • 2-3 Wealthy apples (or your favorite pie apple)
  • cinnamon and sugar to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp butter divided
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 16 oz cream cheese softened
  • cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Penzeys ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Penzeys ground nutmeg
  • Pinch Penzeys ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Struesel Topping

  • ¼ cup cold butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp white sugar

Caramel Sauce

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ½ tsp arrowroot starch
  • ¼ cup dark maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp sucanat
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Crust

  • First, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch spring from pan with canola spray or melted coconut oil/butter.
  • Then put the graham crackers in a food processor and grind until they are just small crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse a few more times.
  • In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Finally, press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Struesel

  • Combine the flour and sugar. Then cut in the butter and using a pastry blender (or by hand) break up the butter into pea-size pieces. Set aside until the cheesecake is ready to bake.

Filling

  • In a frying pan, melt 1-2 Tbs. of butter. Add the apples with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Sauté until easily pierced with a fork. (They should be soft, but not applesauce.) Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add approximately an inch of water to the bottom of a double boiler and melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips on medium heat. Stir every few minutes and be sure not to get any water in the chocolate. When the chips are melted, remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbs. of melted butter. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large, deep bowl, combine the somewhat-cooled white chocolate mixture, cream cheese, sugar, maple syrup, spices and salt. Use an stand or hand mixer to mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often to ensure that everything is well combined. Don't to use the slowest setting and do not over mix. Gently fold in the prepared apples.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Scoop the filling in the spring form pan and using a small offset spatula, smooth it out until even. Sprinkle the struesel over the top.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, making sure to not open the oven! Any rapid change in temperature or humidity can lead to cracking and caving.
  • Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for another 30 minutes, still not opening the door. When the time is up, remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool for approximately 30 more minutes before letting it chill and set up in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Caramel Sauce

  • While the cheesecake is cooling, whisk the arrowroot starch and 2 tbsp of cream in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat the rest of the cream, maple syrup, sucanat, and sugar. Whisk often and bring to a boil. After 10 seconds of boiling, add the butter.
  • Decrease heat and simmer for 10 minutes, continuing to whisk. Add the slurry and gently boil another minute or two. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt.
  • After it is somewhat cooled, it can be drizzled over the entire cheesecake or added to individual slices. Enjoy!

Notes on Caramel Apple Cheesecake:

When selecting white chocolate, make sure it actually contains cocoa butter and is free from hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. (I get mine at Trader Joe’s.)

It’s important to make sure the base of of the spring-form pan is right side up. However, even if it is, it’s still possible for butter to leak out the bottom. To prevent a major mess, line a baking sheet with foil and place it under the cake pan.

Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature before use so that it mixes smoothly. It will also help prevent the need to over-mix which can cause the cheesecake to cave in.

Whatever you do, do not open the oven until it is time to take it out. I know it’s tempting, but you just have to trust me on this one! It is imperative that the pan is put together correctly and a baking sheet is below the pan. Otherwise you may have to open the oven to clean up burned butter as the house fills with haze…yes, I learned this the hard way.

Don’t cover the cheesecake until it is totally cool to prevent condensation from collecting on top and don’t release the sides until it has set up for 3 hours in the fridge.

Eggless Bronco Bread

As I was making Eggless Bronco Bread this weekend, I was having a hard time trying to figure out what time of year it’s best suited for. After all, blueberries are a summer fruit and citrus is winter. But then I remembered that it’s Bronco bread, so clearly it’s appropriate right now! I’m not even a Bronco’s fan, but I am a fan of this bread and I think I just found a way to justify making it in the summer, fall, and winter.

Somehow, nothing seems to say “fall” quite like football season. Not that football is at all my favorite part about fall. But it’s one of those things I like to have on in the background even though I never actually pay attention or know what’s happening during the game. Mainly because on quiet, relaxing weekends when there’s enough downtime to have it on, chances are I’ll be busy baking in the kitchen!

The perfect quick bread for summer, fall, and winter!

Also, another reason this bread is perfect for fall is that it pairs wonderfully with a piping hot cup of Purity coffee on a crisp October morning. (Click the link to learn more about this amazing coffee!) Anyway, Eggless Bronco Bread is absolutely delicious and you won’t even miss the eggs. It’s sweet, moist, and bursting with flavor! Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Similar recipes you’ll enjoy:

Vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins

Orange-Raisin Irish Soda Bread

Cranberry Orange Scones

Eggless Bronco Bread

Bronco bread is absolutely delicious–it's sweet, moist, and bursting with flavor! Not only that, but this recipe is egg-free and can easily be made vegan!
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: blueberry, bread, easy, orange, pastry
Servings: 12
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • ½ tbsp orange zest

Flax Egg

  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
  • Next, whisk the flax seed with hot water to make a flax egg and let stand 5-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk butter, water, orange juice, and zest in a medium bowl. Add the “egg” and mix well.
  • Finally, add dry ingredients and once mixed, fold in blueberries.
  • Pour into
    prepared loaf pan and bake for about 70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Rolls

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying fall so far now that we’re finally getting into it. It’s the best time of year for us foodies who love pumpkin, apple, cranberry, squash, and all that other deliciousness. Even though today’s recipe doesn’t shout fall, the weather is cooling off, so a good time for recipes requiring some oven time. Especially these vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Rolls!

There are three aspects to this recipe: homemade marinara sauce, the lasagna rolls themselves, and cheesy garlic bread. Of course if you’re really in a rush, you could skip the bread and use a store bought sauce. However, I think it’s a lot of fun to make the recipe in it’s entirety!

Vegetarian lasagna rolls full of spinach, mushrooms, and a variety of cheeses

I adapted the lasagna and sauce recipes from Skinny Taste and the garlic bread from Eazy Peazy Mealz. The Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Rolls below are actually a combination of Skinny Taste’s Mushroom Kale Lasagna Rolls and Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups. I also made some other changes like substituting egg and swapping out ricotta for cottage cheese. Just one last thing before you start: when making the bread, see my note below on how to avoid “flame-broiling”! 😉

Other recipes you might like:

Spaghetti Pie

Margherita Pizza

Baked Asparagus Risotto

Artisan Bread

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Rolls

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: garlic bread, lasagna, marinara, mushroom, spinach, vegetarian
Servings: 12
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

Lasagna Rolls

  • 12 9 oz whole wheat lasagna noodles cooked
  • 2 ½ cups homemade marinara sauce recipe below
  • 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 8 oz mushrooms finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 15 oz part skim cottage cheese
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • Salt, pepper, and sage to taste
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese

Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 28 oz San Marzano tomatoes crushed
  • Fresh basil, oregano, and thyme to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garlic Bread

  • ¾ cup butter softened
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 loaf homemade french or artisan bread ½ inch slices
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese sliced

Instructions

Lasagna Rolls

  • Prepare the marinara sauce (below) and cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. In a small bowl, combine the ground flax with hot water. Whisk and let stand about 5-10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Using a large saucepan, sauté the garlic in the olive oil for about one minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted (about 5 minutes). Add the chopped mushrooms, salt, pepper, and sage. Continue to cook another 5-6 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.
  • In a large bowl, combine the spinach and mushrooms with the flax egg, cottage cheese, and Parmesan. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  • Scoop about one cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan and spread it around. Lay the lasagna noodles on a large cutting board or piece of freezer paper. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the filling onto each noodle and spread out. Roll each noodle and place in the pan (seam side down).
  • Scoop another cup of marinara sauce over the rolls and top each one with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let cool for a few minutes before topping with extra sauce and serving.

Marinara Sauce

  • In a saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, being sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients and turn the heat to low.
  • Let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it is thickened, remove from heat and set aside until needed for the lasagna.

Garlic Bread

  • Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with foil.
  • In a small bowl, cream the softened butter with the garlic, garlic powder, parsley, and freshly grated Parmesan. Spread some of the mixture over each slice of bread and sprinkle with paprika.
  • Place on baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. The butter will be melted and the bread lightly toasted.
  • Remove from oven and place a thin slice of fresh mozzarella on each piece of bread.
  • Set the oven to broil and place the bread back inside for 1-2 minutes. Remove when the cheese is melted and the bread is golden on the edges.

Notes

Unless you want flame-broiled garlic bread, I advise against using parchment paper on the pan…yes, I know from experience. If your broiler is on the top of the oven like mine, the parchment can curl up and touch the heating element. Resulting in an oven fire. It this occurs, don’t be like me and panic and also keep the door shut. (Don’t worry, the garlic bread was miraculously still okay 🙂 ) Be safe and enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread

Growing up, banana muffins were always one of my favorite treats, but with the rate at which we went through bananas, we hardly ever had any that lasted until they were overripe. (They called me “Monkey” for a reason!) However, now my husband and I always seem to have plenty of overripe bananas on hand, so this Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread is our go-to recipe.

The bread features warm fall spices, rich dark chocolate, and a splash of rum for good measure. I adapted the recipe from Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked-Up Banana Bread, but use coconut oil and a flax egg to make it vegan. I also reduce the sugar, use whole wheat pastry flour, substitute rum for bourbon, and add a generous dose of chocolate for good measure.

In addition, I just want to add a side note about freezing bananas. Previously frozen bananas work great in this recipe, but you’ll want them to get to room temperature first. The coconut oil with it’s high freezing point will start to solidify shortly after adding it to the bananas. However, if you aren’t concerned with making it a vegan recipe, you could always use melted butter and then it should be less of an issue.

I hope you give Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread a try and I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below! Happy fall baking!

Similar Recipes to Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread:

Eggless Bronco Bread

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins

Ingredients

1 Tbs. ground flaxseed

3 Tbs. hot water

3 large, ripe, mashed bananas

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup white sugar

1 Tbs. molasses

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 Tbs. spiced rum (optional)

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk the flaxseed and hot water to make an “egg”. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the mashed banana and coconut oil.* Then add the sugar, molasses, vanilla, and rum (if using).

Add the spices followed by the baking soda and salt. Finally, add the flour and mix until just combined, being sure not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake for about 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

*Note: Make sure the bananas aren’t cold if they were previously frozen. Coconut oil has high freezing point and will start to solidify if the other ingredients aren’t at room temperature.

Couscous Salad with Kale and Blueberries

Even though it’s a week after Labor Day and the kids are back in school (myself included), there’ll still be plenty of nice weekends to cookout and have picnics. This couscous salad is light and fresh and is the perfect side dish to any meal. Not only that, but it’s super quick and easy for those rushed evenings you need something fast and preferably healthy. Go ahead and give it a try–I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below! Enjoy!

Ingredients

Salad

1 cup Israeli pearl couscous, dry

6 cups chopped kale (thick stems removed)

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

4 oz queso fresco, crumbled

1 avocado, diced (optional)

Dressing

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 Tbs raw honey

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Let cool and place it in a large bowl. Combine with the kale, blueberries, chickpeas, cheese, and avocado (if using).

In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Enjoy!

Adapted from the Kristine’s Kitchen recipe: Kale Quinoa Salad with Blueberries

Fresh Strawberry Pie

May. School was finally out! I woke up early to the fresh summer breeze rustling through my curtains as the sun tried to peek through. Birds sang in the woods nearby. Summer was not a time for sleeping in. I went outside for my morning chores, feeding the dog, chickens, and pony. On my way back inside to enjoy my breakfast on the back porch, I made sure to peek in the strawberry beds. The blossoms were gradually forming into berries–it wouldn’t be long!

By the end of May, the first ripe strawberry would appear. Of course Lauren and I would argue over who got the first one…or we’d have to cut it in half. But as we got into June, berries were in full swing and we couldn’t seem to keep up with them! My mom bustled around the kitchen making jam, muffins, mascarpone pie, and strawberry rhubarb coffeecake. We’d pile them on pancakes, waffles, yogurt, or just eat them straight out of the patch. But you couldn’t call it June in our house without a fresh strawberry pie!

Note: this pie is best enjoyed on the back porch during thunderstorms on a cool summer night.

An essential part of this recipe is using a pie crust from scratch. I’m still perfecting my technique and don’t really have a recipe because I learned from my grandma who goes by guess! But I hope to master the art of pie crusts soon and share the recipe when I have it!

Ingredients

Pie

1 9-inch homemade pie crust, baked

4 cups fresh strawberries, divided (local and organic is best)

1/3 cup raw honey

1/2 cup sugar

3 Tbs cornstarch

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tsp butter

Whipped Cream

8 oz. heavy cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

Pie

Take half of the strawberries and cut off the stems. Then arrange the berries on the baked pie crust, hull side down.

In a saucepan, put the rest of the strawberries, honey, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Cook on medium/low until combined and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Allow the sauce to cool before pouring over the strawberries and pie crust. Chill before serving with homemade whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks begin to form. Slowly add the vanilla and sugar and continue whipping until it reaches desired consistency. Scoop a generous dollop on a slice of pie and enjoy!

Lemon Garlic Salmon with Roasted Asparagus

Today I want to share a new salmon recipe that’s perfect for this time of year when asparagus is in season! This is also a great option for Friday night if you’re craving fish, but want a heart-healthy option instead of beer-battered fish fry. It’s a very simple recipe, super quick, but loaded with flavor! If you want to work ahead and get even more flavor, you could try marinating the salmon with the lemon and garlic beforehand.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Asparagus

1 bunch fresh asparagus

1 clove garlic

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Salmon

2 large wild caught salmon fillets (or four small ones)

2 cloves garlic

1 small lemon

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice asparagus into 4 inch spears and arrange on a baking sheet. Mince one clove of garlic and sprinkle on the asparagus. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, rotating the pieces every 15 minutes. Cooking time varies based on the size of asparagus.

While the asparagus is roasting, prepare the salmon. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (if not non-stick) and lightly grease with olive oil. Mince two cloves of garlic and zest the lemon. Place salmon fillets in the pan skin down. Sprinkle with garlic and lemon zest. Then squeeze the lemon juice on the salmon and add salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The fillets should be opaque and flaky when done. Enjoy!

Baked Asparagus Risotto

You always know when it’s spring in my family because that’s when there’s fresh, wild asparagus incorporated into nearly every dish. Asparagus was never something we would buy at the store when I was growing up since we always had so much of it growing around our property. Because of that, we only ate it seasonally, but we sure made the most out of asparagus season!

Sometimes we would just have it grilled or steamed with melted butter on top. Other times it would be pureed in asparagus soup or added to my mom’s famous veggie lasagna (hopefully a post on this coming soon). But one of my favorite spring dishes has always been asparagus risotto.

During my time volunteering at Healthy Community Kitchens, I learned how to make authentic risotto. It was only then that I realized that this recipe isn’t true risotto. That being said, risotto is one of those dishes that has to be very precise and takes some time to master. So while I work on developing that skill, enjoy this simpler baked version!

Makes 4, 1 cup servings

Ingredients

1 Tbs olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup uncooked Arborio rice

8 cup spinach leaves (about 4 oz)

2 cup vegetable broth*

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)

1/2 cup fresh, grated Parmesan cheese, divided (2 oz)

1 1/2 cup diagonally sliced asparagus (about 1 inch pieces) **

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add rice and stir well. Stir in spinach, broth, salt, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Stir in asparagus and sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed.

Notes

*Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth to make it vegetarian.

**Also try substituting half of the asparagus with peas (as pictured).

Mocha Cheesecake

This egg-less mocha cheesecake is actually one I made a while ago, but never got around to sharing the recipe. So here it is! It features a classic graham cracker crust and a chocolate filling with a hint of coffee. I chose to top it off with a drizzle of coffee infused glaze.

In case you’re wondering what type of coffee to use, I always recommend Purity Coffee. Purity is certified organic and lab tested for mold and mycotoxins. It is also higher in antioxidants than other conventional coffees. You can learn more about all the wonderful health benefits here! In the meantime, enjoy 10% off your first order by using promo code ROOTS.

As you read through the recipe, you make notice that there are no amounts listed for the glaze ingredients. If you’ve been following my blog for while, you probably know my philosophy on frostings, icings, and glazes: no recipe needed! Just add a little of this and a little of that until it’s just how you like it. Worst case scenario, you keep adding more until you have a lot more frosting than you really need 🙂 Enjoy!

Ingredients

Crust

1 tsp. sugar

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil or butter

Filling

1 cup dark chocolate chips

2 Tbs. melted coconut oil or butter

2 8-oz. packages of 1/3 fat cream cheese (room temperature)

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbs. coffee reduction

1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa

2 tsp. pure vanilla

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Glaze

Coffee reduction

Powdered sugar

Milk

Directions

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 inch spring-form pan with canola spray or melted coconut oil/butter.

Put the graham crackers in a food processor and grind until they are just small crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse a few more times.

In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted coconut oil or butter. Then press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Prepare the coffee reduction using this recipe. Set aside.

Add approximately an inch of water to the bottom of a double boiler and melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips on medium heat. Stir every few minutes and be sure not to get any water in the chocolate. When the chocolate chips are melted, remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbs. of melted butter or coconut oil. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large, deep bowl, combine the somewhat-cooled chocolate mixture, cream cheese, sugar, coffee reduction, cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Use an electric mixture to mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides every so often to ensure that everything is well combined. Be sure not to use the slowest setting and do not over mix.

Put the filling in the spring form pan and using a small offset spatula, smooth out the filling until it is even across the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, making sure to not open the oven! Any rapid change in temperature or humidity can lead to cracking and caving.

Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for another 30 minutes, still not opening the door. When the time is up, let the cheesecake cool for approximately 30 more minutes before letting it chill and set up in the refrigerator for at least three hours and up to overnight.

While the cheesecake is cooling, it’s time to start the glaze! In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, coffee reduction, and milk. Adjust the amounts to achieve your desired consistency. When the cake is cool, drizzle with glaze and enjoy!

Tips

Make sure you put together the spring form pan correctly. Otherwise, oil from the crust will leak into the oven causing a huge mess. I’ve learned this the hard way. Three times to be exact.

Line a baking sheet with foil and put the spring form pan on it while baking. This will prevent any major mess in the event that some leakage does occur.

Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature so that it mixes smoothly.

Again, whatever you do, do not open the oven until it is time to take it out. I know it’s tempting, but this is crucial to cheesecake success! This is also where it becomes imperative that the pan is put together correctly and a baking sheet is below the pan. If you have to open the oven to clean up burned butter as the house fills with haze, the cheesecake will surely cave in the middle. (Yes, I also learned this the hard way.)

But in the unfortunate event that the cake does cave in, all is not lost! The glaze will make it less noticeable and it will still taste great!

Don’t cover the cheesecake in the fridge until it is totally cool to prevent condensation from collecting on top. If this does happen, dab it off with a paper towel.