Let’s get seasonal!

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Tis the season! As always, it feels like it’s sneaking up on me.

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But I do love the excuse to get very seasonal with my baking – the colors of winter fruit are so pretty!

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Pomegranate arils always look like piles of rubies to me – the light shines through them so beautifully, like it does through stained glass windows.

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This cake is the best excuse of cake for breakfast I’ve made recently – lightly sweet, lemony and delicious. It’s gluten free and refined sugar free, too!

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Incidentally, it’s also high in protein from the almond flour and the ricotta – added bonus, if that’s your thing. We enjoyed it two ways: it’s perfect for dessert with a bit of vanilla ice cream, and excellent for breakfast alongside eggs & kale (see exhibit a).

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This cake also includes beaten egg whites – this is one of my favorite examples of baking alchemy: I love watching the egg whites go from straight liquid to soft, foamy whirls. I never get tired of it!

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On that note, I’ll keep it short and sweet today. I do hope you’re enjoying the holiday season with loved ones! Might I suggest feeding them cake? Everyone wins!

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Lemon Ricotta Cake with Pomegranate Arils

Lightly sweet, perfectly lemony-almondy – dense but not overwhelming. Gluten free and refined sugar free. Not dairy free, but I’m thinking that either non-dairy butter or coconut oil would work for a sub, and I know they make non-dairy ricotta from almond milk. So! We have options. This version does away with the glutens but obviously contains dairy. Serve wedges with a bit of ice cream for dessert, or alongside breakfast. Yield: 1 8″ or 9″ cake, depending on the pan you use (see recipe). Recipe adapted from Foolproof Living, here.

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Let’s make cake!

7 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 4 lemons
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c (5 oz) almond flour
1 c (4 1/2 ounces) fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
pomegranate arils – I used one full pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily (see photo for reference).

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Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with almonds, if using. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Garnish with pomegranate arils before serving! Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

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Rhubarb Stalking

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Rhubarb stalking!

… see what I did there? I’m especially proud of that one…

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Sometimes, you just gotta stalk the seasonal produce of your dreams (especially when it has stalks… heeheeehe!) Luckily, I found a big bunch at my local market a few weeks ago, chopped it up and threw it in the freezer for later use. And what a smart plan that was! Frozen rhubarb bakes like a dream, which meant this crisp was in and out of the oven in an hour, including prep time.

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We seem to be getting full-on summer weather (90+ degrees, ew someone save me) here for a few days — I trotted out my old trick of baking at 6:30 in the morning so that the oven doesn’t heat up the apartment overly much (definitely warranted when you live in a studio… no one likes a furnace for an apartment).

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But! This crisp is worth a slightly warm apartment… especially since we’re getting close to the end of the rhubarb season I think (at least around here); I’m not seeing it in the market as much lately. If it’s still around you, stalk those suckers! You need this crisp in your life.

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Tart-sweet, with an unexpected earthiness from the sage – this one is a winner for dessert with some ice cream, and for breakfast the next day (obviously, that’s what leftover crisp is made for, it’s basically granola and fruit!) Not really sure what prompted me to try sage in dessert but I am NOT sorry – I think it might become a reoccurring thing around here, that’s how good it was! I really like the flavor paired with fruit, and it would be interesting to see where else it might play a role.

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Another from the SF series – I photographed the dome when I was over at the Herbst Theater a bit over a week ago.

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Happy May! Go stalk some rhubarb before it disappears for the season, make crisp & eat it with your loved ones. I promise it tastes even better in good company :)

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Rhubarb Blackberry Crisp with Sage

Tart-sweet, with an unexpected earthiness hit from the sage. Perfect for dessert with ice cream of choice, and for breakfast the next day. Refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, vegan. Yield: 1 9″ pie plate; serves 6-8 (or 2… not that I speak from experience). A Wait are those Cookies original.

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For the filling:

  • 3.5 c fresh rhubarb, chopped into small pieces (frozen is also fine – run briefly under cool water in a colander to thaw slightly before using)
  • 1.5 c blackberries (mine were frozen)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice of one meyer (or regular) lemon
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

For the crisp:

  • 1 c rolled oats (gluten free if needed)
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 c raw pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 c raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil, solid
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh sage

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease a 9″ pie plate or 9×9 pan with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, almond flour, sea salt, pecans, almonds, and coconut sugar. Cut in the coconut oil, using a fork/your fingers/a pastry cutter if you’re feeling fancy — I used a fork and my fingers and it worked just fine (crisp is exceedingly forgiving). Stir in vanilla extract and chopped sage.

If using frozen rhubarb & blackberries, put them in a colander and run them briefly under cool water in the sink to thaw them slightly. Drain any excess water and toss into another large bowl. Add vanilla extract, lemon juice, and maple, and toss to combine.

Add the rhubarb + berry mix into the prepared pie plate or baking pan, top evenly with the crisp. Pop the whole thing into the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the crisp is lightly browned and… crisp!

Serve with your fave vanilla ice cream/non dairy of choice (whipped coconut cream would also be good here), and store any leftovers covered in the fridge. Makes EXCELLENT breakfast the next day – the crisp solidifies a little in the fridge and omg it’s good. Besides, who is going to pass up crisp for breakfast?! Not this girl.

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Wait… no citrus?!

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Hold the phone. NOT CITRUS?!

Surely you must be joking.

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Don’t worry, my love affair with all things citrus hasn’t ended, it’s just taking a week off so I can give apples some love. Apples haven’t really featured heavily in my desserts of late, so this is a nice change. Besides, apples, honey and almonds all pair so nicely together.

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This cake is a riff on the honey cake with blackberries & hazelnuts I made back in the fall, and this one once again reminds me of something you’d eat in the Shire – skillet and all, it’s very Tolkeinesque. Which of course appeals to my extraordinarily nerdy nature…

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Besides that, it’s light, delicious and comes together in a snap. I used a combination of apples since I love the tartness of Granny Smith but wanted a more complex flavor – Fujis are in here too.

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Excellent for dessert with some ice cream, and of course for breakfast alongside eggs & kale. Cake for breakfast? Sure, why not – it’s a great source of Vitamin E and healthy fats, plus it’s grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free so everyone wins.

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Besides cake, a few snaps of what’s been occupying my time lately:

More SF series, of course.

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No filter on this next one — I couldn’t believe how bright it was!

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Enjoy your cake! It tastes best in good company :)

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Apple Honey Cake with Blackberries and Maple Almonds

Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free, paleo depending on your definition. Light almond honey cake studded with apples and topped with blackberries (mo’ fruit!) and mapled almonds. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake; serves 2-8. Recipe is a riff on the honey cake with hazelnuts & blackberries, here. Note: I’ve adapted this recipe over time to fit my 8″ cast iron skillet perfectly, hence the odd measurements. Feel free to make this in a 9″ cake pan or skillet, just keep in mind the bake time will be less & you’ll have a slightly shorter cake.

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For the cake:

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c honey (I use raw usually) – runny and thick honey are both fine
  • 1/8 + 1/16 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (I used a mix of Fuji & Granny Smith)
  • 1 apple for topping, sliced into 1/4″ thick wedges + 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Cinnamon for topping

Peel, core and chop 2 apples, and set aside. Lightly grease your skillet or pan of choice with coconut oil and set aside. Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in eggs, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract, and stir until all ingredients are just incorporated. Stir in 2 chopped apples. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside momentarily. Cut up the last apple, slicing it into 1/4″ wedges and toss it with the tbsp of melted coconut oil. Fan these out across the top (this is totally optional of course), and sprinkle a little cinnamon on them. Bake for 60-65 minutes (if you left the apples off the very top of the cake, your bake time will be slightly less – check at 45), until the top of the cake is lightly browned, firm, and a tester in the center comes out clean. You can cover the cake with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking if the cake is browning too fast. Remove and let cool before topping & serving.

For the maple almonds

  • 1 c slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

For serving: top cake with blackberries and maple almonds! Slice and serve, especially good with vanilla ice cream. Store any leftovers covered, in the fridge for a few days.

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Thursday = cookies. Clearly.

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Happy Cookie Thursday (which is almost Friday and therefore almost the weekend)!!!

It also happened to be genie pant Thursday. Whatever. My Thursday needed a little sparkle and purple genie pants were obviously the apparel of choice for work.

So anyway, cookies.

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I was in a sorority in college. Or rather, I still am a member of said sorority, but I lived in the house for two years during my undergrad. I know, I know. You’re shocked. YOU, you say?? My hippie-granola-genie-pant-wearing self in a sorority?! Yep. Better believe it. Thankfully, Willamette is teensy and liberal arts, and therefore has a really different (in a good way) Greek system. My house was full of eclecticaly hilarious and awesome individuals, so I fit right in.

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But… what does this have to do with cookies? Well actually… I seem to have retained an ingrained habit of cookies on Thursdays. And for this, I can blame thank living in the house. Our chef made cookies at lunch every Thursday the two years I lived in, and after I moved out my senior year, I sort of kept that up (although I made them probably way more frequently than just once a week, let’s be real here). But nowadays, I seem to have fallen back into the Thursday routine! Which is fab, because if you think about it, Thursdays are a perfect day for cookies. Because it’s not quite Friday and the weekend, and you might need a little pick me up or something, you know? What better than a cookie? And then besides, once the batch is gone, it’s weekend time! Hooray!

Mine shall tide me over until I leave on my yoga retreat this weekend, ahhhh… or rather, let’s make that ommmmm….

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Triple Threat Almond Cookies

Thick and a little chewy-crumbly, these cookies are lightly sweet and salty. They remind me a little of salted almond-chocolate, but minus the chocolate (sorry if that makes no sense at all). Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free, and full of healthy fats. Yield: 10 cookies. I adapted the recipe from La Gallette, here!

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, grade B
  • 2.5 tbsp melted unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • scant 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 c raw almonds, roughly chopped

This is maybe the easiest thing ever. Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Toss in wet ingredients, and stir to combine, followed by the almonds. The dough doesn’t come together like a typical cookie dough, but you should be able to form balls of it when you squash it together. Roll into about a tablespoon-sized ball, flatten slightly, and place on the cookie sheet. Repeat… obviously… and try not to eat all the dough (which is fab, by the way). Bake for 12 minutes, let cool on the sheet for a minute, then move to a cooling rack. They’re a little crumbly, so be aware when you’re moving them. Mine have all disappeared so I can’t really speak to how well they store… but I usually store things made of almond flour in the fridge if they’re going to hang around for awhile.

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Spinach. On. The. Ceiling?!

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Did I tell you that vaccuum vati found a piece of spinach on the kitchen ceiling the other day? 

Yeahhhh. That happened. How on earth did I manage that?! Welcome to my life: “Hello, my name is Hayley and I am obsessed with spinach!” I toooold you I put spinach where it didn’t belong, but um I had no idea it had gotten on the ceiling..?! I mean, I know I eat it multiple times a day, but that must have been some pretty ferocious chopping. You know, like Chopped Kitchen type of chopping.

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On. The. Ceiling. The mind boggles. 

Anyway.

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Today’s post has nothing to do with spinach and everything to do with apples. Mmm. Appleeesssssss. I feel like the witch in the Wizard of Oz when I say that… 

This tart is simple, good for your body, and good for your soul. It’s not very sweet–if you’re looking for a sweet dessert, this isn’t it. But I like it for a mid-meal snack post workout… or dessert, since I like mine less sweet anyway. I liked it with some added applesauce, and a few pieces of chopped date. It’s gluten free, vegan if you sub out the honey for maple, and contains no refined sugar. Hooray! I made it on a day that was cloudy and overcast, perfect for apples and baking. Simple, beautiful, and good for the soul. 

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And here. Happy Monday, here’s something beautiful! Have a wonderful day :) 

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Apple-Almond Tart 

Recipe lightly adapted from Tales of a Kitchen, here! This makes one full-sized tart/pie, depending on the pan you use. I would recommend a pie pan, as the crust is very crumbly—I don’t think it would come out of a tart pan too well. Next time I make this I think I’ll add dates to the crust instead of honey—I’d like it to be a bit crustier, less crumbly. But still delicious as is! Serves 8. 

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Laze around with me on a cloudy Sunday and produce the following:

  • 1 c oat flour
  • 1 c almond meal/flour (I grind my own from an equal amount of almonds in the food processor)
  • 1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 apples, cored, peel on (I used fuji and daisy girl)
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 5-6 tbsp almond meal
  • 2 apples, finely sliced, peel on

Preheat the oven to 375, and lightly grease your pan of choice (I used a pie pan). 

In a large bowl, combine oat flour, almond meal, coconut, coconut oil, honey, and lemon zest. Mash it all together (ideally using your hands, it’s much more fun) until combined. Press the resulting mixture into the prepared pan, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Poke a few holes in the bottom with a fork, and bake for 9-10 minutes, until lightly browned. When done, set it aside to cool slightly.

While the crust is baking, toss cored apples, cinnamon, and vanilla into the food processor (or blender). Blend until a smooth puree is reached. Toss this into a bowl, and stir in 5 tbsp almond meal. If it’s not thick enough and is still a little watery, add another tbsp of almond meal. Pour the filling into the slightly cooled crust, and arrange the finely sliced apples in a pretty pattern (this is very soothing, I found). 

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until your house smells delicious and the apples are a golden brown. Let cool before slicing, and store in the fridge! Excellent with a little extra applesauce, or I’m sure whipped coconut cream would be delicious as well, if you can be that on top of things (unlike me). 

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Instant Date-ification

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I used to looove fig newtons. Love them. I don’t really think they’re a universally loved-by-kids snack, but whatever. As a kid, I loved them. I used to nibble around the sides and eat off all of the cakey bits (come to think of it, I ate around madelines from Starbucks the same way…) and then eat the figgy bits in the middle.

In college I graduated to organic ones. Oooooh. Organic obviously makes processed things okay… ?! Um no… not really.

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But… I’ve graduated college and am now a real person (um.. no) (immaturity keeps me forever young) (part of being an adult is being a kid at heart, right? Right) now I’ve graduated to making my own! And even better than figgy type newtons… these are DATE newtons! Pshh. Who WOULDN’T love something stuffed with dates?!

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I’m pretty sure I’ve already mentioned this, but juuuust in case you haven’t noticed… I also LOVE dates! As in, I love dates beyond all reason. They are delicious and good for you and I could easily eat them all day long all day every day for the rest of my life. End of story. Stranded on a desert island, can only pick one food? Dates. Well, okay. Dates and almond butter, because clearly I couldn’t survive on dates alone (and okay… maybe some toast to put the dates and almond butter on. Picky, aren’t I?). I would obviously try though.

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So I made these! And they were maybe one of the best things I’ve put in my face all week. Aaaamazing. And raw. Which means no dealing with ovens and all that silliness, just instant date-ification. Yum yum yum. Oh. And they’re fabulous for you, so it’s just a win win win all around. Healthy fats [almonds and flaxseed], omega 3’s [flaxseed], whole grains [oats], protein, fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals and excellent energy [dates, dates dates!].

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Raw Date Newtons

Recipe gratefully borrowed from the Pancake Princess, here!

Makes 16 little guys. Gluten free, could be vegan [non dairy milk bev+maple].

First we rummage for this kind of biz:

  • 1/2 c raw almonds (mine were already partially ground)
  • 1/4 c flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 c rolled oats
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 tbsp milk bev (I used 1% dairy)
  • 1 c dates, pitted and soaked for a few minutes
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

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Then we:

Lug out the trusty, zillion pound food processor. Open lid, put in blade, yadayada. Toss in almonds, flaxseed, oats, and salt, and pulse until blended. If your almonds are whole and not partially ground like mine, you might want to grind them alone for a bit so that they’re more broken up, but that’s up to you (and the strength of your food processor). Add in honey and pulse until the mixture starts to come together and be clumpier. Add milk, 1/2 tbsp at a time, until it sticks together like a dough (and if you pinch it between your fingers it stays together). Remove the dough from your food processor, and roll it out really thinly between two pieces of wax/parchment paper. Aim for a mostly rectangular shape, just to make your bites even sized. I cut mine in half so that I would have two even-ish rectangles, about 1/8-1/4″ thick.

Without even bothering to wash out your food processor (quite possibly my least favorite part of baking), drain dates, and add them with the vanilla to the bowl. Process until a paste forms—it should be spreadable. Spoon that goodness directly onto each half of your rolled out dough, and then fold it up and around the filling to make a cute little date newton bite! Repeat with the other piece of dough and filling. Slice each log into about 8 bites, for a total yield of 16.

Store them in an airtight container in the fridge… if they last that long…

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you can never have too many dates…

Goodbye, moderation, hellooooo ice cream

Thursday things.

1. Apparently I make an excellent napping place:

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2. You know that Oscar Wilde quote I always toss around, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”…? Yeahhhhh. About that moderation thing. Out the window it went on Tuesday when I went to Fenton’s and ate this food coma-inducing wonder. Luckily I split it with Vacuum Vati or else I might be dead by now, ha. This was moderation in moderation in action:

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and then.

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muahahhaha.

3. And then last week I ate this: bourbon cornflake ice cream with bourbon caramel and tahitian vanilla ice cream with slivered, sweetened almonds. Thank you, Humphrey Slocombe, for sending me to gastronomical heaven.

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4. AVO!!! I made paleo cookies to use up the last of my coconut flour. They were… ehh. As much as I love coconut, I just can’t get past the sucks-all-the-moisture-out-of-your-mouth grittiness of coconut flour. It’s okay… but ehhhhh is really how I feel about it.

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5. I really like architecture. Juuuuust saying. Neo gothic seems to find me everywhere after my thesis, but I can’t say I’m sorry: it’s like finding an old friend wherever I go!

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6. OHMYGOSH. I made the ehhh paleo cookies. AND THEN. I made… these. They’re amazing and amazing for you. Make them. (Just as long as you’re not allergic to nuts please). I want them for second breakfast since it’s nine and I’ve had eggs and spinach already. Time for cookies, obviously…

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7. One last thing. Um… Downton Abbey?! Helloooo, what a horrible way to end the season. Couldn’t we have just had a nice ending to the SERIES, with everyone all happy and whatnot? Jeez. At least my favorite Machiavellian meddler is still alive and sarcastically kicking—I’d seriously have to quit watching the show if Maggie Smith left. I think I now have sympathetic post-partum depression. Ugh. At least Mad Men is starting up again in April (!!!)… I’ll attempt to fill the gaps between wildly addicting tv shows somehow… more baking perhaps?!

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Chocolate-Date Almond Butter Cookies (No Bake)

The recipe is from Vegetarian Ventures, here! Sooo glad I came across it, these are freaking amazing. Especially with date caramel on top! You can never have too many dates. These cookies are raw, no bake, and vegan (and gluten free!). They’re full of healthy fats, good protein, and antioxidants… annnndddd all they have is natural sugars! No added or refined anything, which means they’re a snack/breakfast/dessert you can eat and love! I got 11 2″ish cookies.

Whatcha need:

  • 1/2 c raw pecans
  • 1/2 c raw almonds (mine were already partly ground)
  • 1 c dates, pitted and soaked in water for about 15 minutes
  • 1/2 c unsalted organic almond butter (I used Maranatha)
  • 1 oz of dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt for a garnish

This is beyond easy, no excuses:

After dates are finished soaking, chuck everything into a food processor, and blend until smooth. Mine went for probably about 3-4 minutes, or until the “dough” forms a bit of a ball. If needed, add a little bit of water (I didn’t and mine stay together fine). Here’s where you get to play with your food! Roll dough into little balls and smoosh them out into a cookie-like shape… make a crisscross pattern with a fork if you’re feeling fancy, and sprinkle with sea salt. Or leave them as balls, up to you! Store in the fridge, in a sealed container with wax paper between the layers. I let mine chill for a bit before eating—they solidify into sort of a fudgy-consistency. Soooo. Freaking. Good!

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