Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Easy Homemade Pesto with Gluten Free Zoodles

This post is dedicated to everyone who is gluten intolerant and will never know what it’s like to be in a carbo-loaded coma. My heart goes out to you, really.

Personally, I crave carbs. There is nothing more satisfying than eating a big bowl of pasta and then curling up for a nap. And don’t even get me started on the free bread baskets at restaurants. I could go through the whole thing by myself, and I typically do.

The only problem is, my clothing likes to punish me for binging on carbs. My pants won’t let me fit into them the next day, which is a serious problem because pants are necessary for going out in public.

So I am making a big effort to say “no!” to (most) carbs. We can all admit though that sometimes saying “no!” can be really hard. My solution: the Veggetti!

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials by now. “The Veggetti is the fun, easy and extremely fast way to turn veggies into delicious spaghetti in just seconds!” My mom bought a Veggetti, so I tried it out last week. I have to admit it is really freaking awesome!

I used a zucchini to make “zoodles.” It was super easy to twist, and it didn’t take much effort at all. In just about a minute or two I had a full plate of the zoodles. I sautéed the zoodlesfor just a few minutes, and then I tossed it with a homemade pesto sauce.

It was seriously delicious.  My biggest concern was that the zoodles would be mushy and have a different texture than real noodles, but that wasn’t the case at all. I was very impressed. In fact, I didn’t miss real spaghetti at all! I am not exaggerating! It was that good!

The homemade pesto was also superb, and I’m so excited to share that recipe with you today! It is sooooo much better than the store-bought version (as most things are). 

So all of you gluten-free folks, rejoice! This zoodles with pesto recipe is the answer to your prayers!

Easy Homemade Pesto with Gluten Free Zoodles
Yield: Makes about 8, two tablespoon servings

For the Pesto
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Zoodles
  • 1 zucchini

For the Pesto
  1. Add basil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan to a food processor. Turn the machine on and blend for about 20 seconds.
  2. Add the olive oil to the food processor and blend again until completely combined, or about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Store the pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

For the Zoodles
  1. Use a Veggetti to make zucchini noodles.
  2. Saut̩ the zucchini noodles in pan with non-stick cooking spray for 4 Р6 minutes.
  3. Combine with 2 tablespoons pesto. 

Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious. This post was in no way sponsored by the Veggetti. I just really enjoy the product!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting

WARNING: These cupcakes are for serious chocolate fans only. Consumer discretion is advised.

These cupcakes are not your average chocolate cupcake. Sometimes when you eat a chocolate cupcake, they have a very weak taste. Like if someone were to blindfold you and you didn't see what the cupcake looked like, you wouldn't be 100% certain that what you were eating was a chocolate cupcake. But these cupcakes, my friends, are RICH

It's a moist dark chocolate cupcake topped with thick dark chocolate frosting. They're so deliciously fudgy. I honestly don't think they can be eaten without a glass of milk.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting
Yield: makes about 12 cupcakes

For the dark chocolate cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk

For the dark chocolate frosting
  • 2 and 3/4 cup (330g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2/3 cup (80g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons (95ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each time. You may also melt the butter and chocolate over low heat on the stovetop. Stir until smooth and set aside to slightly cool.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, toss the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the cooled butter/chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat until everything is added. Stir until *just* combined; do not overmix. The batter will be very thick like pudding.
  4. Divide the batter between 12 liners in your cupcake pan. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting
  1. Sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside. 
  2. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition. Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  3. Frost cooled cupcakes and top with sprinkles as desired. 
  4. Cupcakes stay fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days.  Store covered in the refrigerator is desired for up to 1 week.
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Crockpot Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Reason #79056 why I love crockpots -- you can use them to make super moist desserts! I cooked this entire pineapple upside down cake in the crockpot. That's right. There was no oven required. 

You may be wondering "why on Earth would I bake a cake in the crockpot when I could just bake it in the oven?" Well, when you use a crockpot you don't have to worry about using your oven so you can cook other things in it. It's also safe to leave your home with the crockpot on, whereas it's not so safe to leave with your oven on.  

So try this pineapple upside down cake and get hooked on crockpot desserts!

Crockpot Pineapple Upside down cake
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (20 ounce can) pineapple slices in juice, drained, juice reserved
  • 10 maraschino cherries without stems, drained
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • Vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box

  1. Spray 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and melted butter; spread evenly in bottom of slow cooker. 
  2. Arrange pineapple slices on brown sugar mixture, cutting as needed to fit in one layer. Place cherry in center of each slice and around slices, as needed.
  3. Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to measure 1 cup. Make cake batter as directed on box, substituting pineapple juice mixture for the water. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
  4. Cook on High heat 
  5.  2 1/2 to 3 hours or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Turn off slow cooker; uncover. Remove ceramic base from cooker to cooling rack. Cool 15 minutes.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Classic Garlic Hummus

As I’m sure you’re aware, one of the most popular brands of hummus, Sabra, has issued a recall of 30,000 cases! That’s a lot of hummus. So how do you know if the hummus you’re eating is safe?

Plain and simple – make your own!

I feel like hummus-making is something people like to nonchalantly brag about. “Oh yeah, of course I make my own hummus. I only use chickpeas shipped directly from the Mediterranean.” But in all actuality, it is not difficult to make hummus. Do you own a food processor? If the answer is yes, you can make hummus.

Personally, I like my hummus garlicky, so that’s how I made this particular hummus. But you could add pesto to your hummus or lemon or even Sriracha.

Also, let’s talk about the dipping situation. You can dip any variety of things into hummus like cucumbers or red peppers. Personally, I favor the carb option – pita chips! You can certainly make your own pita chips, orrrrr you can buy a great big bag of Stacy’s pita chips and snack all your troubles away.

Classic Garlic Hummus
Yield: About 2 cups hummus
Printable Recipe

  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed (reserve chickpea water)
  • 6 medium cloves (or 3 tablespoons minced) garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more for garnish
  • Salt, to taste

  1. Peel the skins off the chickpeas
  2. Place chickpeas in food processor and pulse until they’re somewhat smashed.
  3. Add garlic, lemon juice, olive oil parmesan, cayenne pepper, and paprika to food processor and pulse for a minute.
  4. If it’s too thick add a little chickpea water to thin it out. Add salt to taste.
  5. Serve with fresh veggies and pita chips. 

Recipe adapted from Carla’s Confections

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests

Easter has always been my favorite holiday. I love the pastel colors. I love the candy and chocolates. I love the warmer weather of spring. I love witnessing the earth come alive again after being dead all winter. And most importantly, I love the real reason that we celebrate – Jesus. 

Jesus paid the ultimate price for each and every one of us. He was nailed to the cross and died for our salvation. But His death was not the end because he rose from the dead. And on Easter we celebrate his resurrection.

Easter is a beautiful celebration of life, and I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice that was made for me. 

This year, I will be attending Easter service at Traders Point Christian Church, and I welcome all of you to attend and celebrate the Risen Lord with me.

Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests
Yield: Makes about 24 nests
Approximate 160 calories for 2 nests

  • 3/4 cup (from 5 large) egg whites
  • 10 ounces sweetened coconut flakes (I used Baker's)
  • 6 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 48 mini egg-shaped candies (I chose M&Ms peanut butter eggs)

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a heavy saucepan combine egg whites, coconut flakes, and sugar and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until all the ingredients combine together, about 12 minutes. The mixture will be sticky and moist.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Set aside and let it cool 10 minutes.
  4. Spray a nonstick mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Drop heaping tablespoons of coconut mixture into tin and lightly press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the tin to make "nests.”
  6. Bake 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden.
  7. Let the nests cool 10 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove from the tin.
  8. Top each nest with two mini eggs.
Recipe adapted from

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