Easy, Healthy Apple Crisp

Another week gone by!  I was out in Denver for work Tuesday afternoon through Thursday night for a team training.  It was nice to get together with the new team, we’re all scattered all over the country and this doesn’t happen a ton so it was nice that it happened so soon after I transferred!  My favorite part was our team building activity on Wednesday night.  We did a cooking class, “A Night in Tuscany.”  Everything was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to remake some of the recipes at home and share them on here!

Matt’s parents drove down from Syracuse today so we made them dinner and hung out at our apartment tonight.  We made one of our favorite soups, the Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, from last year.  We made a delicious salad (post coming up next), and then this healthy apple crisp recipe!  It is absolutely delicious, the addition of the pecans is absolutely perfect.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Easy Apple Crisp (recipe from here)

Serves: 6+

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats if making this recipe GF)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal*
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
  • 4+ apples, cored and diced (about 5-6 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add oats, almond meal, nuts, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt to a mixing bowl, and toss until combined.
  3. Add maple syrup and melted coconut oil (or butter), then toss until combined. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and toss until combined.
  5. Spread the apple mixture evenly into a greased 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch pan, then sprinkle the oat mixture evenly on top of the apples.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and golden and the apples are soft and cooked through. Serve immediately, with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Crisp can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

*If you can’t find almond meal at the store, you can pulse almonds in a food processor until fine to make almond meal.  Or, you can substitute in white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour) in place of the almond meal.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle

Happy Labor Day weekend!  I’m looking forward to the year where I don’t have to work on Labor Day…but until then, we’re making the most of it!  I took today off from busy season because it’s Matt’s birthday!!  We had a really great day.  Went for a walk and got coffee and our favorite bagels this morning (birthday bagels).  Then we had people over this afternoon for pizza, food, and hanging out.  Despite several of our friends being out of town for labor day, a lot of people came and it was so good to hang out with old friends (3 of Matt’s college friends live in the area) and new friends!  Afterwards we just took it easy, which was really nice after a pretty crazy week.  Such a solid weekend so far.  Good is good, life is good, everything is great!

For the birthday celebration I made a couple of desserts – Cookie Cake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle.  I’ll spare you the cookie cake recipe, it’s literally a half batch of chocolate chip cookies, cooked in a quiche dish, and then I decorated it:

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The chocolate peanut butter truffle is always a hit.  My mom use to make this and Matt loved it from his first bite, so she’s passed the recipe along to me (and many others).  I hope you enjoy it too!

(We made a couple of new dinner recipes this week but they weren’t spectacular so I won’t be posting those, hopefully we’ll find some more winners soon!)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle

Serves: 10-12

Ingredients

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 ¾ cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 12 oz cool whip
  • 1 box brownie mix
  • 2 eggs (for brownie mix)
  • Canola oil (for brownies)
  • 6+ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (frozen)

Directions:

  1. Bake brownies according to package instructions, let cool.
  2. Cut brownies into small (1” or smaller) squares. (I always cut off the edges before doing this.  I say it’s to make the pieces in the dessert less chewey, and because it’s what my mom did.  But it’s mostly because I love brownie edges and I get to eat them myself this way)
  3. Melt ½ cup peanut butter
  4. Mix 2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding with 1 ¾ cups milk, until thickened
  5. Mix peanut butter into pudding mixture
  6. Fold pudding mixture into 12 oz cool whip. This makes a “peanut butter mousse”
  7. Chop frozen Reese’s into small pieces.
  8. In a larger bowl, or trifle dish, layer brownie, pudding mixture, chopped Reese’s, and repeat.
  9. Enjoy!

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“Aunt Lisa’s Brownies” (Double Chocolate Fantasy Bars)

I don’t know where time goes, it’s going to be August this weekend! Yikes!  Life has been busy, per usual.  Last week I flew to California for work, I was there for approximately 21 hours.  Flew right to Syracuse from there, spent the weekend with the fam (my brother and his fiance were home for a friend’s wedding), and then drove back to DC with Matt on Sunday so the studying could continue!  Test is on Wednesday and I hope to report back about a preliminary passing score next time a recipe goes up! They give you a preliminary score right away (thank God for computer based testing), and then you get your official score 3 weeks later.  I’m told it’s highly unlikely that it will change from the preliminary one, especially if the preliminary score says pass.

These brownies are DELICIOUS!  I made them for a BBQ a while back (I think it was the Fourth of July, but I’m not at all behind on here…).  They’ve always been a hit and this was no different.  They’re also seriously addicting, so consider yourself warned!  They’re called Aunt Lisa’s Brownies to me because my Aunt Lisa made them for the first time back when I was in high school, when she sent me the recipe I saw that it was actually called ‘Double Chocolate Fantasy Bars,’ but they’ll always be Aunt Lisa’s Brownies to me.  Hope you enjoy as much as we do!

Aunt Lisa’s Brownies

Makes: 24+

Ingredients

  • 1 Box of Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 oz pkg semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ – ¾ cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixer bowl, beat cake mix, oil, and egg on medium speed until crumbly. Add nuts, if using (I don’t).
  3. Reserve 1 ½ cups crumb mixture. Press the remainder on to the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the 6 oz chocolate, 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk, and 1 tsp vanilla.
  5. Over medium heat, cook and stir until chips melt.
  6. Pour evenly over prepared crust. Top with reserved crumb mixture, then top with mini chocolate chips.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.
  8. Cool, cut into bars, and enjoy!

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Coffee Ice Cream

Hi everyone!  Sorry for being MIA lately.  Studying has really taken over my life and this is what my kitchen table currently looks like:

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The review program I’m taking has a benchmark “review readiness” quiz that I took last weekend, and according to my results I am 99% likely to pass the CFP exam.  I’m still not completely convinced so this is where I spend all my spare time.  That is, the time that I’m not hanging out with these cuties:

FullSizeRender (4)Seriously, two of the cutest kids ever!  We went to Jazz in the Garden Friday night and got to hang out with them (and their mommies, and a few other friends) before bedtime.  Other exciting things happening in life – I’ve been helping with the Financial Peace University class at our church on Wednesday nights.  This spun out of the Money Matters series they did at church.  It reminded me how passionate I get about teaching people about money and financial planning and I emailed our pastor during it and he asked me (and a few other people from church with similar passions) if we’d be interested in helping out with the class.  It has been great!  Dave Ramsey has some extreme opinions, but they work.  And if you can get a room full of 50 people listening to him and following his plans even just a little, we’re making big moves.  More exciting news to follow along those lines, but not today.

We have been cooking!  I’ll get the recipes on here eventually.  For now we just have one – coffee ice cream.  YUM!  This was some of the best ice cream that we’ve made yet.  The one problem – we’d have ti as dessert after dinner and then Matt wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at night!   So our genius friend, Katie, suggested something we hadn’t thought of (and no, it wasn’t work from home and have it with lunch….we did that too) – make it with decaf beans!  So yeah, do that.  It’s what we’ll be doing next time.  Hope you enjoy as much as we do!

Coffee Ice Cream

Makes: 1 Quart

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups whole coffee beans
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups heavy cream, divided
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. finely ground coffee or espresso powder
  • chopped up dark chocolate, or other mix in

Directions:

  1. Combine the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and ½ cup of the heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the mixture is warm and just begins to bubble, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. After steeping, return the saucepan with the coffee mixture to the burner over medium heat. Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Once the coffee mixture has become warm again, slowly pour the mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.
  5. Return the egg-coffee bean mixture to the saucepan over medium high heat. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula or spoon (about 170-175° F.)
  6. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible, then discard the beans (I used a heavy-bottomed drinking glass to do this.)
  7. Mix in the vanilla and ground coffee or espresso powder.
  8. Chill the batter over an ice bath, or in the refrigerator.  Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Stir in the chocolate pieces and freeze until the ice cream solidifies.

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Scotcheroos!

These bars are one of my all time favorites!  My college friend Kirsten would always make them, or share the ones her mom would send in care packages and I was hooked.  They had them as a dessert at my friend Hannah’s wedding and I’m embarrassed at how many I ate!  After college I went through withdrawal after a few years and when I realized that I’m capable of making things myself, I just asked Kirsten for the recipe.  So glad I did that, because these are SO good!  We bust these out occasionally when we need a sugar high and want to feed a larger group.  This weekend we brought these (along with the cowboy caviar) to our friend Stefan’s party.  It’s a recipe we need to bring to a large gathering, because if left to eat it all on our own, we will go through it too soon and get severe stomach aches!

Scotcheroos

For the Bars:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light karo syrup
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 1/2 cups Rice Krispies (we used the Trader Joe’s brand and it was fine)

For the Icing:

  • 1 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:

  1. Start with a large pot (will need to hold krsipies too).  Melt the sugar and syrup together.
  2. Stir over heat and take off heat as edged start to boil.
  3. Stir in the peanut butter.
  4. Add Rice Krispies.
  5. Place into a 9×13 pan (no need to grease).
  6. Melt chocolate chips together, stir, and frost the krispies.
  7. Let frosting harden before enjoying.

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Happy Tuesday, friends!  Hope everyone’s week is swell.  We just had a solid evening with our new small group – “new” meaning the old one split into two due to size and due to schedules the Tuesday one works best for us, so there are some of the same people, but we’ve added a bunch of people so it’s basically new.  We’ve been discussing the current sermon series at church, Money Matters.  It’s just been really encouraging and motivating to go through these with our group.  I’m really excited to see where God takes us out of this series. And if you need a podcast to listen to I HIGHLY recommend listening to these.  The ones on 6/7 and 6/14 from Aaron and the one on 6/21 from Matthew.

We tried out this new ice crem recipe this weekend and it’s 100% a keeper.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker and you love ice cream as much as I do, I’d recommend the investment.  We don’t have anything super fancy, it’s this one.  Pretty sure we got a rebate gift card for buying that during Sur la Table’s ice cream event last year.  Basically if it’s above your price range it’ll probably go on sale or have some sort of deal attached to it in the future.

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream (Recipe from here)

Makes: About 1 Quart

Ingredients:

For the cookie dough:

  • 5 tbsp. salted butter, melted (or unsalted butter plus ¼ tsp. salt)
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ – ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (I used mini chips)

For the ice cream:

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

Directions:

  1. To make the cookie dough, stir together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until smooth. Mix in the flour, then the vanilla and chocolate chips.  Add extra four if needed to get desired consistency.  Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.
  1. To make the ice cream, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue heating, stirring often, until the butter is a deep golden brown color, being careful not to burn it.
  1. Whisk in the heavy cream and heat until simmering.
  1. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and the egg yolks until pale and fluffy.
  1. Once the cream mixture is warm, add a small amount to the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in the rest of the cream.  Mix in the salt.
  1. Return the egg-cream mixture to the saucepan and heat until just slightly thickened, and the temperature reads 170-175˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.
  1. Immediately remove the mixture from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract and the whole milk.  Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
  1. Once the mixture is chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  1. Chop the disk of cookie dough into small chunks. As soon as the mixture is done churning, transfer to a bowl or airtight container and stir in the chocolate chips and the chunks of cookie dough.  Store in the freezer until firm.

Week 45 – Tarte Aux Fruits and Blackened Chicken with Avocado Cream Sauce

Sorry for being MIA, everyone!  Studying and class are kind of taking over my life right now,  The CFP exam is officially less than 2 months away (July 30) and I’m starting to freak out a bit, which leads to studying in allllll of my spare time (which feels like it’s evaporating…)  We had a pretty great Memorial Day weekend, how could a long weekend not be great?  Matt’s parents were here for part of the weekend and then we had a BBQ at our friend’s on Memorial Day.  Out contributions were both past recipes from here, and both were hits so if you haven’t made the Light Dessert Or Blackberry Salad yet, you should.  We’re actually borderline obsessed with the blackberry salad and have made it about 4 times since trying it 2-3 weeks ago.  It’s that good.

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Oh and I updated the week 44 post to include a picture of the Grilled Chicken with pineapple avocado salad (we made it again this week), so check that out too!

So we did a couple new recipes two weeks ago, but I still need to translate the one for the Tarte Aux Fruits so you get one recipe and pictures of the tarte.  The chicken is pretty basic.  The avocado sauce was nice to do something different with grilled chicken.  We’ll definitely make it again, it was too easy not to!  The tarte was a little more involved, but amazing, as I remember it being.  It was recipe from high school French class, I still have my recipe packet from our cooking unit.  Thus the need for translation.

Blackened Chicken with Avocado Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

Blackened Chicken:

  • 4 — 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1 Tbsp blackened seasoning (we used Dinosaur BBQ Foreplay Rub)
  • 2 Tbsp green onions, finely sliced

Avocado Cream Sauce:

  • ⅓ cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ avocado, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ReaLemon® Juice
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Season the pounded chicken with seasoning.
  2. Lightly coat a large frying or grill pan with nonstick cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, cook chicken breasts for 7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the Avocado Cream Sauce by blending Greek yogurt, avocado, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt in a food processor.
  4. To serve, place about 2 Tbsp of Avocado Cream Sauce and ½ Tbsp green onions on top of each chicken breast.

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Tarte Aux Fruits

Ingredients – Crust:

  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp butter, cold
  • 1 Tbsp Crisco
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • ¼ cup cold water

Ingredients – Cream:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup flour

To Make the Crust:

  1. Add flour, salt, sugar, butter, and Crisco to a food processor. Mix for 10 seconds, until it forms small pieces.
  2. Restart the food processor and quickly add ¼ cup cold water while the food processor is running
  3. Stop the food processor when the crust has formed one ball. If the crust is too moist, add flour.  If it’s too crumbly, add water.
  4. Wrap the ball in saran wrap and refridgerate for 1 hour. Keeps for 1-2 days in the refrigerator, or 1 month in the freezer.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 and roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured surface. Place the crust in a 9” quiche dish and make sure it’s up on the sides.  Cut off any excess crust.
  6. With a fork, poke tiny holes in the crust, on the bottom and sides.
  7. Butter (or spray with pam) a piece of parchment paper and place the buttered side down on the crust. Top with rice, or dried beans, or something to weigh down the paper.
  8. Cook for 01 minutes with the weight in the crust, the remove the paper and weights and cook another 5 minutes, or until crust is golden.

To Make the Cream:

  1. Heat the milk in a microwave for 1-2 minutes on medium heat.
  2. In a food processor or mixer, mix the egg yolks and ½ cup sugar, until dissolved. While the machine is running, add 1/3 cup flour and mix for 20 seconds, then add 1 cup milk while still running.
  3. Pour liuid into a microwave safe bowl. Cook in the microwave on medium heat for 2 minutes, take out and mix, cook another 2 minutes.  Once the cream is almost thickened, cook 1 more minutes (this should take 5-7 minutes or more).  You can also do this on a stovetop, but mix constantly and make sure it does not burn!
  4. Add 1 Tbsp butter and 2 tsp vanilla and mix the cream. Cover with plastic wrap so that it is touching the top of the cream in the bowl (to avoid a skin form forming), and refrigerate until cold.
  5. When ready, add cream to tarte crust and stop with desired fruit toppings.

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