Heart Fruit Skewers and The Best Fruit Dip Ever

A Last Minute Valentine treat – Heart Fruit Skewers.Heart Fruit Skewers and Fruit Dip
Who can resist fruit cut in pretty heart shapes? Not me.

These skewers make a pretty and healthy-ish platter. And for Valentines’ Day, this dip that I made in the 80’s is a great splurge. And really, the best fruit dip ever. It is light. It is fluffy, sweet and a little tangy. Just perfect. Not healthy, but perfect tasting. I use orange juice concentrate because orange juice makes the dip too runny.

For your Valentine, this is a sweet treat that is a little something different.

Heart Fruit Skewers and Best Fruit Dip Ever

The Best Fruit Dip Ever

Makes 2 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 small jar marshmallow fluff

Whisk together the cream cheese and orange juice concentrate. Fold in the marshmallow fluff. Serve at room tempaerature or chilled.

Heart Fruit Skewers and The Best Fruit Dip Ever
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2 cups
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  • 1 small jar marshmallow fluff
  • .
  1. Whisk together the cream cheese and orange juice concentrate. Fold in the marshmallow fluff. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Genius Chocolate Peppermint Stacks

Chocolate Peppermint Stacks

No baking. No fuss. In fact, there is no cooking required at all to make these pretty little chocolate peppermint stacks – the perfect no-fuss ending to your holiday feast! Just five minutes of prep time and you will have spectacular Chocolate Peppermint Stacks.

I have been a big fan of ice box cakes since I was a little girl and my great grandma made us an ice box cake with graham crackers. I made an updated ice box cake in her honor – a Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Box Cake made by using the shortcut of Nutella.

Ice box cakes are genius because they use thin wafers or graham crackers and a moist filling such as whipped cream and then you put them in the ice box and wait for them to soften so that the wafers or graham crackers become cake-like in texture. Genius, I tell you.

If you want to go vegan with this dessert, use Coconut Whipped Cream – a dairy-free version that is even more yummy than regular whipped cream, but a little extra work.

So, this ice box technique is perfect for a last-minute dessert that literally takes only about one minute per dessert to put together.

I love, love, LOVE using Famous Chocolate Wafers for all kinds of desserts, so naturally I used them here. They are a perfect thin, crispy cookie and work so well in ice box style cakes. Just put them together before you eat you dinner and by the time you are ready for dessert, they will have softened perfectly.

Apparently I am not the only one who adores these thin crispy cookies – they have their own facebook fan page!

Bonus: They look so pretty on a plate!

Genius Chocolate Peppermint Stacks
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • One package (9 ounces) Famous Chocolate Wafers
  • 2 cups whipped cream (or other whipped topping)
  • ¼ cup crushed peppermint candies
  1. Place one chocolate wafer on each serving plate and then spread a thin layer of whipped cream on top. Repeat for a total of about 6 layers (more than this and your tower may topple!).
  2. Refrigerate fro about 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with additional peppermint candy if desired.

Other ice box cakes that would be fabulous on a holiday table:

Raspberry Ice Box Cake, Tidy Mom
Pumpkin Mousse Ice Box Cake, Diethood
Lemon Ice Box Cake, Chew Out Loud
Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Box Cake, Apron Strings

Making Holiday Candy? Try Our Maple Bacon Cranberry Brittle

Homemade Christmas Candy: Level Up with Bacon Brittle.
Bacon Brittle with Maple, Brown Sugar and Cranberries #ChristmasCandy #Bacon

Bacon Brittle with Maple, Brown Sugar and Cranberries

Homemade candy as a Christmas gift: one of the most delicious traditions ever. Fun in both the making AND the eating. I’ve liked making pralines in the past, and Donna’s Joy To The World Balls are always a hit, but a few years ago I leveled up to a whole new dimension: Bacon.

This was originally inspired 2010’s BlogHer Food, where I got to overdose on more bacon than I have probably eaten in the entirety of my life, thanks to Michael Ruhlman and The Bacon Experience (sounds like a prog-rock band, does it not?).  At the same unforgettable soiree, those of you who attended may also remember the incredible pistachio-cherry brittle among the desserts. Heaven! Right there and then, I decided a merger of the two had to happen. …

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Caramel with Molasses, Maple and Sucanat: Apples Optional

Sometimes it’s worth sharing a fail when there’s a WIN in the same effort, as in the case of these wretched-looking mini candy apples with what turned out to be an fabulously flavorful caramel sauce.

Caramel with Molasses, Maple and Sucanat #dairyfree #norefinedsugar

Go ahead, laugh. I deserve it! But truly, the flavor of the sauce is worth making this for other caramel uses.

Aren’t they pitiful? You can say so, I know they are. Any food blogger these days naturally gets excited when they think they may have a potential Pinterest hit in the works. I thought these adorable mini apples might be contenders, scooped with a melon baller and skewered with twig-shaped lollipop sticks, sprinkled with smoked sea salt.


The consistency was potentially a problem, but the moisture on the apple balls (having no skin on them) made them so slippery that the caramel more or less slid right off.  Letting the caramel cool and thicken a bit more helped a little, but as you can see, it was eventually to no avail.

But the good news is the flavor of the sauce. As I’ve mentioned once or thrice, I have a serious Thing for caramel and will eagerly try all the varieties I can. I wanted to experiment with some unrefined sweeteners (like sucanat and molasses from Wholesome Sweeteners). I also wanted to make it dairy-free and slightly lower-glycemic. Both the coconut milk and the unrefined sweeteners, the molasses lent the caramel a hint of tanginess and umami that worked beautifully – even if it looked far from beautiful melting around the base of those apples. And hey, the minerals in both the sucanat and the molasses give it a nutritional boost as well. …

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Parfaits – A Raw Dessert for Early Fall

If you’ve never tried a raw dessert, these Caramel Apple Cheesecakes are a perfect intro (especially on an autumn day). 

Raw Caramel Apple Cheesecakes #rawdessert #paleo #vegan

Layered Caramel Apple Cheesecakes – a perfect raw dessert for fall.

Raw food ‘cooking’ and I got off to an awkward, if memorable, start. I was already intrigued by the concept, and had sampled and loved quite a few raw dishes at some of my favorite vegan restaurants that featured raw cuisine (like Caravan of Dreams) when I was living in NYC (and was still a committed vegetarian).  Later, having relocated to Connecticut, when I saw that a local cooking school was offering a whole series on raw cuisine, I jumped at the chance immediately, securing my slot well in advance.

By the time the class rolled around, I was newly pregnant and in the throes of so-called morning sickness. For me, like so many other moms, this was really more like feeling intensely carsick 24 hours a day (if ONLY it were limited to morning). Very little food sounded appetizing at all, the least of which was vegetables – normally something I loved and thrived upon.  I still attended the class, never one to let money or learning opportunities go to waste, so although Lily was only about the size of a peppercorn at the time, she prevented me from tasting more than a few perfunctory nibbles of everything we created. Drat!

But first trimesters pass in the blink of an eye, and soon enough I was able to make the items I had missed out on at home, thanks to the booklet our instructor had given out. Though living exclusively or even primarily on raw foods doesn’t work for me, I appreciate many of the benefits: how nutrient-dense it is, how it’s naturally dairy-free (and much of it is quite paleo-compatible, actually, if you’re including it in balance).

It’s especially great for having the occasional dessert treat  – hence this creation. With the seasonal shift well underway, I was starting to crave some caramelly, cinnamon apple flavors. A bit of experimentation led to this! It takes a bit of prep and assembly, but the effort is totally worthwhile. Multiple household members reported back with enthusiastic reviews. (Then again, none of us are pregnant. Proceed with caution if you are.)…

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Pomegranate Poached Pears

Pomegranate Pears

Poached pears is one of those desserts that I think of every time there is that fall chill in the air. I don’t eat a lot of fresh pears, but poached pears are one of my favorite things. They are soft and velvety and comforting. I love the flavors of this recipe – the pomegranate gives tartness and the Balsamic gives richness. The hint of cinnamon is just right without being overpowering.

We have Asian pear trees in our yard, and so I sometimes use those. My favorite pears for this are Red Bartletts or Comice pears. They have a smooth texture without a grainy texture, and yet are sturdy enough to hold up to poaching.

The flavors of this recipe are so warm and cinnamon-y. I love the tang of the pomegranate paired with the sweetness of the pears.

Put this on your Must Try list for fall. You won’t be sorry!

Pomegranate Poached Pears
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Cinnamon stick
  • 3 ripe red Bartlett pears
  1. In a large deep skillet, bring the juice, water, vinegar, sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil.
  2. Peel pears and cut in half lengthwise. With a melon baller, scoop out core and seeds from middle of pears. Please pears in skillet and immediately reduce heat so that liquid is barely simmering. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning pears frequently.


Homemade Marzipan Honeybees

An easy, wholesomely sweet snack that’s fun to make with kids.

Homemade Marzipan Honeybees

Homemade Marzipan Honeybees made with almond flour and honey.

About 8 years ago, I made an extra-special cake for a friend who shares an all-time-favorite comedian with me: The inimitable Eddie Izzard.  Anyone who’s already a fan will recognize the statement “I’m COVERED IN BEES,” but for the uninitiated, I share this here. You’re welcome.

Anyway, the cake was a jelly-roll, styled as Yule Log despite the summer heat, decorated with flowers and (surely you guessed it) COVERED IN BEES. At the time, I used pre-packaged marzipan to roll the little bee-body shapes, and fashioned them just like you see in this recipe’s version, with the sliced almonds as wings.

I was reminded of that cake a few weeks ago, when I finally got to see Eddie live after being an avid fangirl all these years. In homage, I thought I’d recreate the bees all on their own in a homemade whole food version, thinking they’d be a sweet little bite for kids, and a perfect treat for us paleo/whole food types, with no refined sugar, grains, or dairy. …

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Red White and Blueberry Dessert Waffle Stacks – and the Sweet Secret to Crispy, Crunchy Waffles

Waffle Stacks

Waffle stacks – for dessert or breakfast? You decide!

A great way to start the day on the Fourth of July. But then again, a great way to END the day on the Fourth of July.

In the Pancakes vs. Waffles debate, I stand firmly on the side of waffles. I mean, C’mon, all that crispy goodness of the waffle surfaces,  just empty little squares waiting to be filled with butter and syrup. What’s better than that???

I have recently been making dessert waffles. There is one trick to making them with the perfect crispy crunch on the outside: sugar.  Yes, just plain old regular sugar. You just sprinkle a tiny bit on the surface of your waffle iron right before spooning in the batter and – my oh my! – this adds the perfect sweet crust! Trust me on this one and just try it! Turns waffles into sweet crispy desserts!

Red White and Blueberry Dessert Waffles Stacks
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Dessert or Breakfast? You decide!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Additional sugar for sprinkling on waffle iron
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • ¼ cup strawberry jam
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • ¼ cup blueberry jam
  • Whipped cream (as much as desired!)
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk, eggs, butter and almond extract. Combine the wet and dry ingredients with minimal stirring.
  2. Blend in blender the strawberries and strawberry jam. Blend together the blueberries and blueberry jam.
  3. When ready to pour into a waffle iron, sprinkle a little sugar on surface of waffle iron. Then ladle in the waffle batter and cook to desired color and texture.
  4. Layer the waffles with whipped cream, strawberry mixture and blueberry mixture.

Other bloggers do dessert waffles:

Chocolate Raspberry Waffles, Lovely Little Kitchen
Sweet Potato Dessert Waffles, Ally’s Kitchen
Chocolate Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches, Dessert for Two

No Cook Peaches and Cream Tart

Peaches and Cream Tart

Peaches and Cream. In our society, this phrase has come to mean wonderful, delicious and delightful, as in “it was all peaches and cream.” Also shortened to “it was just peachy!”

I couldn’t agree more that all things peach symbolize things most delightful in this world.

I can hardly wait until peaches are in season each year. I walk through the produce section of the grocery store just to whiff peaches again and again.

This peaches and cream tart takes just minutes to put together and no baking or cooking of any kind. I don’t know why I never thought of using coconut cookies for the crust. After all, graham crackers mAke a fabulous crust. Just whirl coconut macaroons in a food processor and drizzle in some butter and you’re done!

It is cool, creamy and has just the perfect touch of sweetness. I will be making it again and again this summer!

Peach tart

No Cook Peaches and Cream Tart
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
  • For the crust:
  • 8 ounces coconut macaroons
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar (or other alternative sweetener)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 to 5 cold fresh peaches or nectarines
  1. Whirl in the food processor the macaroons until very small bits. Slowly stream in the butter until the mixture clumps together. Press into a 10 inch tart pan r spring form pan. Chill in refrigerator while making the filling.
  2. Whip the cream to soft peaks and set aside. With a mixer on high speed, whip the cream cheese, sugar or sweetener, almond extract and lemon juice until fluffy. Spread on top of coconut crust and chill for 2 hours, up to overnight.
  3. Slice peaches and spread on top.

Other bloggers’ adventures with peaches:

5 Minute Peaches and Cream Frozen Yogurt, Just a Taste
Deep Fried Peaches, Oh Sweet Basil
Peaches and Cream Ice Cream, Chocolate Moosey

Dairy-Free Avocado Chocolate Pudding with Coconut Milk Whip

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

Heart-healthy foods have become a MUST here at the Kelly casa. (The Hubs – also my food photographer –  recently had open heart bypass surgery!)

In a quest to add more heart healthy ingredients to our diet, I have become obsessed with avocados. Yes, they have fat in them, but the fat is heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid. The fat in them is oleic acid, which has been proven to reduce inflammation in the body, which is good for lowering risk of both heart attack and many types of cancer. And we haven’t even begun to talk about all the other health benefits. Avocados are one of the best things you can eat, and bonus: they are tasty and creamy and so versatile.

Since avocados are now in season, I will be buying and cooking and eating them like crazy. I plan to visit the California avocado site often!

I have always loved cooking with this fruit – for breakfast I love an egg in an avocado, I love to make avocado chopped salad many ways, and I have even made avocado custards.

This chocolate pudding recipe is so yummy that I would make it even if it weren’t a healthy end to a meal. It is light, yet rich, and amazingly vegan and dairy free. Even the whipped coconut cream!

Happy Avocado Season, everyone!

Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding
Skip the guilt with this healthy spin on chocolate pudding.
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1 can regular (not light) coconut milk
  • 4 ripe avocados
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Water as needed
  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Add water as needed to make pudding texture. Chill for at least two hours. Serves 6 to 8.


1 can (14 ounces) regular coconut milk (NOT light)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Chill the can of coconut milk for several hours, or overnight.

Open can and with a spoon carefully remove the top layer of solidified coconut cream (it will be about half of the can).

Whip at high speed with all remaining ingredients until the consistency of whipped cream, about 3 minutes.

Can be stored in refrigerator for about 8 hours.


Other bloggers do heart healthy avocado desserts and treats:

Chocolate Avocado Shake, Apron Strings (Yes, us! One of Anne’s earliest recipes, from way back when, before we even knew to put a picture with every post!)
Flourless Black Bean Avocado Brownies
, Ambitious Kitchen
Blueberry Avocado Muffins, Gimme Some Oven
Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Icing, Love and Lemons
Avocado Super Food Smoothie, Blender Girl
Chocolate Avocado Bread Pudding, Cookin’ Canuck

— posted by Donna