Sinful Indulgences

'Occasionally' aka not every day or even every week we need to have something to satisfy that sweet tooth and make us smile. It's best if it's homemade.

Creative Cookies

I dunno.  It was Sunday morning and I just felt like baking some cookies.  Sunday’s in the kitchen are very therapeutic for me and I was in a creative mood.  I also like to look around the pantry and see what needs using.  I found an overly large bag of pecans that  I didn’t want to hold onto until Thanksgiving and a half used bag of coconut nearing it’s expiration date.

In my fridge were a jar of natural maraschino cherries from hubby’s birthday pineapple upside down cake from last year. Hmmm.

My creativity was sparked.  I decided to make up a basic batch of cookie dough, divide it in half and make a butter pecan cookie and a cherry coconut.  Yum, here we go. . .

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Ingredients

Basic cookie dough
2 1/4 cups King Arthur measure for measure gluten free flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Butter Pecan
1/3 cup chopped pecans
24-30 pecan halves
maple sugar

Cherry Coconut
1/2 cup finely flaked coconut
1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries
12-15 all natural maraschino cherries, halves
finely flaked coconut
powdered sugar

Preparation

In a small mixing bowl mix the flour, baking soda and salt until well combined.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl beat the butter, sugars and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy. Add in the eggs one at a time mixing until well combined.

Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Divide the dough in half.

To one half stir in the pecans.  To the other half stir in the coconut and chopped maraschino cherries.  Cover both with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Butter Pecan
Roll a tablespoon’s worth of dough into a ball.  Roll the dough in maple sugar and place on a cookie sheet.  Press the cookies down slightly with the bottom of a glass.  Gently press a pecan half into the center of each cookie.

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Cherry Coconut
Roll a tablespoon’s worth of dough into a ball.  Roll the dough in a mixture of half coconut, half powdered sugar. Press the cookies down slightly with the bottom of a glass.  Gently press a half of a maraschino cherry into the center of each cookie.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool on the pan for 2 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

King Arthur Flour’s “Tender Peach Scones”

Late summer continues to bring barbecues and great times but the close of peach season brings a certain sadness to my heart as this is one of my favorite fruits.  I order 2-3 boxes every year from Pearson Farms because we all know the best peaches hail from Georgia.  To give California their credit they come close but must travel a greater distance.

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When I saw this delicious recipe on King Arthur’s blog I just had to try it before all my peaches were gone.  It did not disappoint and was beyond reproach when paired with homemade vanilla ice cream.

I changed it only slightly to make it gluten free.

Ingredients

2 cups King Arthur gluten free multi purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
1 tablespoon baking powder (aluminum free)
6 tablespoons cold grass fed butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs
1/3 cup full fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon peach brandy
1 cup diced peaches, not peeled
coarse sugar, optional; for sprinkling on top

Preparation

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg and baking powder.  Work in the butter, using your fingers, 2 knives or a pastry blender.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and the brandy.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

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Add the peaches, stirring just until everything is combined.  This is a wet sticky dough.  Drop the dough by the 1/4-cupful onto the prepared pan; a muffin scoop works well here.  Sprinkle the scones with coarse sugar if desired

Bake the scones for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove them from the oven and let them cool on the the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to continue cooling.

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Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store at room temperature, well-wrapped for several days.

Yield:  12 scones

Blackberry Cobbler

‘Weakness’ is not something I like to admit to but I do have a penchant for sweets and when my July Southern Living arrived in the mail with this blackberry cobbler with almond ginger biscuits gracing it’s cover I knew my summer would not be complete without indulging in it.

I waited until I had reached my goal weight for the summer and felt a splurge day was well earned.

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You can see the original Southern Living recipe here and below in my remake are a few minor changes to make the recipe gluten free as well as a little healthier.

Ingredients

Filling
7 cups fresh organic blackberries
1/3 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup King Arthur gluten free multi purpose flour
2 tablespoons raw butter, diced

Almond-ginger biscuits
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups King Arthur gluten free multi purpose flour
1/4 turbinado sugar, divided
1/4 cup cold butter, diced
1/4 cup freshly rendered lard
2/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
2-3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely minced*
2/3 cup raw buttermilk
1 large egg, slightly beaten**
Vanilla ice cream (homemade is best!)

*The recipe called for 3 tablespoons of the minced ginger; I thought that may be overly strong so I reduced to 2 tablespoons — base this on your preference for a milder or stronger ginger flavor
**I used egg white wash only as I had so many leftover from the ice cream I made the day before

Preparation

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Preheat over to 400 degrees.  Stir together the blackberries, sugar, almond extract, sea salt, flour and butter in a large bowl.  Place 6 lightly greased 8-ounce ramekins in an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Divide berry mixture among ramekins.

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Bake in preheated oven until mixture just begins to bubble, 12 to 14 minutes.

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Prepare the almond-ginger biscuits:  whisk together baking powder, salt, flour and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl. Cut the butter and lard into flour mixture using a pastry blender, 2 knives or your fingers (my preference) until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add almonds and crystallized ginger and toss to combine.  Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

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Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 to 4 times.  Pat into a 3/4 inch-thick rectangle (about 7 by 5 inches).  Cut into 6 pieces, about 3 by 2 1/2 inches.

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Remove ramekins from oven and carefully place 1 dough piece over hot filling in each ramekin.  Brush dough with egg and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.

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Return to oven and bake until fruit is bubbly and biscuits are golden, 22 to 25 minutes.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Serve with vanilla ice cream on top or side.

 

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Happy Easter y’all!  Summer’s coming and this is generally the last of my spring flings before I turn the tables to leaning out.  It is a delicious one and the perfect dessert to wow your family.  The banana pudding flavor lightens up the cheesecake (sort of) making it the centerpiece of your Easter table.

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The claim to fame for this recipe goes to  Southern Living March 2012.  I made a few changes to make it gluten free and a tad healthier.

Recipe & Ingredients

1 1/2 cups finely crushed gluten free vanilla wafers*
1/2 cup chopped pecan
1/4 cup butter, melted
17 vanilla wafers
2 large ripe bananas, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely crushed vanilla wafers

Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, vanilla wafers, sliced bananas tossed in lemon juice

*These can be hard to find; any similarly shaped gf vanilla cookie will do.  I used Ginny Mini Butter Crisp and found them at my local Whole Foods

Preparation

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Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Press mixture onto bottom of a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan.

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Stand 17 vanilla wafers around edge of pan (rounded sides against pan), pressing gently into crust to secure. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).

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Combine bananas and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 1 minute or just until sugar has dissolved.

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Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

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Gently stir banana mixture into cream cheese mixture. Pour batter into prepared crust.

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Bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove cheesecake from oven; gently run a knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen.

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Sprinkle top of cheesecake with coarsely crushed wafers. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 hours.

Garnish:  beat 1/2 cup raw cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Place dollops around outer edges of cheesecake.  Top each dollop with a vanilla wafer and banana slice dipped in lemon juice (to prevent browning).

Southern Banana Pudding (gluten free)

It’s time.  It’s the beginning of March; the weather here in Florida is getting warm and bathing suit season will soon be upon us.  I enjoyed my November through February winter feeding but sigh and alas it’s time for Spring Leaning. I did however go out in style. . .

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One of the Jag & I’s favorite desserts is good old fashioned southern banana pudding.  And if I’m going to indulge it’s going to be homemade from quality ingredients.  I usually make this in one large Pyrex dish but opted for ramekins this go round to combat portion control.  It did not work.  The recipe made 8 servings and I refuse to confess how many I ate.

The time has come for Spring Leaning but the memory and taste of the banana pudding lingers on for there’s no reasoning with bathing suit season…

Recipe & Ingredients

3/4 cup unrefined cane sugar, divided
1/3 cup King Arthur gluten free flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups raw milk
4 large eggs, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large ripe bananas, cut into slices
Gluten free vanilla wafers*

*These can be hard to find depending upon where you shop. Any small round vanilla cookie will work.

Preparation

In a large saucepan whisk together 1/2 cup of the sugar, flour and salt.  Separate the eggs and set the whites aside. Slightly beat the yolks and add to the milk.  Gradually add the milk and egg mixture to the dry ingredients stirring with a wire whisk until blended.

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

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Using 8, 8 oz ramekins place 3 vanilla wafers on the bottom of each one, add 5 banana slices and top with 2-3 tablespoons of the pudding

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Repeat the layers

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Ending with the pudding

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt in a small bowl until frothy.  Gradually add the reserved 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form

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Spread the meringue over the pudding with a spatula sealing it to the edges and making a few decorative peaks on top.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes or until meringue is golden

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Let cool slightly on a wire rack.  You can eat warm or chill for several hours depending on your preference.

Serves 8 (in theory)

“Cheat” Meal or Southern Fried Splurge?

Should it really be termed a ‘cheat’ meal?  Perhaps ‘treat’ or ‘splurge’ is a better word.  There is such a fine line with a meal turning from what it is meant to be – a reward of sorts for those that follow a healthy nutritional lifestyle 80% of the time along with solid workouts to an all out binge sometime lasting weeks on end.

IMHO a cheat or treat meal should be about once a week ONCE you are working out consistently and have reached a weight and lifestyle that you are happy with.  One that you can maintain year round.  Exceptions would be those preparing for a physique competition or performance — if you’re really serious your focus needs to be 110%, first place isn’t cheating.

Well, fall is settling in, the sweats will soon come out, I ain’t stepping on any stage or field anytime soon and I’m at a weight that I’m good with for the season.  That being said I eat relatively clean throughout the week and allow myself a splurge meal on the weekend — I don’t want to be weird.  Here’s one of my favorites. . .

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It was Sunday afternoon and Monday is hardcore legs, time to carb up!

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The Choppers

Fried Pork chops

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The Sides

Smashed Taters:  peel and cut up your favorite potato (Russet, Yukon, reds or a combo); cover with water, bring to a steady boil and cook 10 – 12 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain.  With an old fashioned potato masher, smash em’. Add butter, cream or milk and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steamed green beans:  cut or snip and snap into pieces; in a steamer bring water to a boil and steam green beans until tender – about 20 minutes.  Drain.  Add butter, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Gravy: do not let gravy intimidate you.  All you really need is some fat for flavor.  To the drippings from the pork chops add 1/4 cup gluten free flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.  Slowly and stirring constantly with the whisk add in 2 cups of raw milk, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened.  Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Cornbread