Cranberry Maple Blondie Bars

 

Cranberry Maple Blondies: Gluten, dairy, and even grain-free.

 

I have a current reigning all-time-favorite brownie recipe, and that’s this piece of brilliance by Elana’s Pantry. I must have made them at least 5 or 6 times now, always with great results. The last time I made them, though, Trader Joe’s happened to be out of their roasted almond butter.* I decided to chance it and use the raw almond butter instead. Totally still successful – but the difference in color was noticable, even with the added cocoa.

So, it struck me that using the raw almond butter would make for great blondies, using the same method as the other brownies but changing up the flavors a bit. And lo, a fun new fall dessert was born. …

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Eggnog Almond Bark: Inspired by Trader Joe’s

Eggnog Almond Bark

Eggnog Almond Bark

Do you have a beloved seasonal foodstuff you look forward to rediscovering every December? Some eagerly anticipate the return of Caramel Brulee Lattes and Cranberry Bliss Bars to Starbucks, others count the days until boxes of Candy Cane Joe Joes arrive at Trader Joe’s. A fabulous friend of mine looks forward to getting another item from Trader Joe’s: their Eggnog Almonds. Alas, she found them to be sold out on a recent visit. Being me, I thought I would see if I could surprise her with my own rough re-creation.

As it turns out, making smooth, uniform, individually coated almonds is way beyond my confectionery skill set, but I quickly figured out that the big blob of white chocolate and nuts would make a great bark instead. When I changed course, I roughly chopped THROUGH the blob (which I do not recommend, it was just my only option since it was already combined), spread it on a baking sheet and chilled it. Voila, eggnog bark. I do believe it will now be an annual Thing. …

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Homemade Cranberry Bliss Bars – Made Gluten-Free!

Wait no more. The time of year has come at last. NO, not Thanksgiving or Christmas themselves, but the magical day when Starbucks stores across the land start selling their limited-time-only Cranberry Bliss bars. Starbucks pastries are a mixed bag, in my humble, but this is one of their undeniable runaway hits – also sold by the full tray, if that gives you any indication. Today, in fact, those trays are on special for 50% off as part of the “12 Days of Giving”.

Most of you, as foodies, probably know exactly what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t had one of these, either run right out and pick one up  . . . or keep on reading here and try a homemade version that is also, yes, gluten-free!  Celiacs and other gluten sensitive folk can now partake in the joy, the mmm, the bliss that is Cranberry Bliss.

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Gluten-free Vegan Holiday Cookies: Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread

Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread (That's pre-slicing, not one big piece, though one could hardly blame you for hoping.)

Gluten-free Vegan Christmas Cookie Series, part 1 of 3: Holiday Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread

Forgive me for crowing about this one a little, but this is a triumph. Just the other day, while working on a biscotti recipe, I was lamenting how difficult it can be to convert recipes to gluten-free AND vegan at the same time; one at a time,  often manageable enough, but together, they can create some serious issues, texture in particular. (I eventually worked out the biscotti, as you’ll see in the next post.)

This heavenly shortbread, originally discovered on Epicurious, had been a regular in my holiday lineup for years until I gave up the gluten in 2008, and I can’t say how pleased I am with this version, rendered gluten, dairy and egg-free. I love the way this comes together in the food processor, too.  If you try only one of our holiday recipes this year, please try this one*. …

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Reindeer Crap, a.k.a. Easy No-Bake Gluten-Free Christmas Cookies

Reindeer Crap Cookies

Reindeer Crap Cookies

And here’s where we risk losing some readers, but you know, there are times when one just has to remember the wise words, “To thine own self be true.” Well, apparently half of my Self, culinarily speaking, is a 12 year old boy. But I cannot help it, this slays me. (Or shall I say SLEIGHS ME?)

Idyllic Christmas Hearth . . . besmirched by . . .

Ah, a charming Christmas scene. The holiday hearth, featuring stockings hung with care, some new toys, and the traditional milk and cookies left out for Santa, partially consumed in a gesture of holiday veritas. And a cute litt . . . wait, WHAT IS THAT IN THE LOWER RIGHT CORNER?

Let’s take a closer look . . .

It is! It’s fresh Reindeer Crap Cookies!

Is that what it looks like??

Yes, it is. Santa’s reindeer left behind a little treat of their own. But being magical creatures, their droppings are made of chocolate, nut butter, cashews, oats, coconut – and of course, pretty red and green Christmas sprinkles.  What’s not to love? …

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Pumpkin Trifle with Eggnog Pound Cake and Cream

Pumpkin Trifle with Gluten-Free Eggnog Pound Cake

This is your fail-safe. Anything you make this holiday that falls apart? Whip up some heavy cream (if you do dairy) , cut the culprit into chunks, and make a trifle.  This of course works any time of year, but putting these complementary holiday flavors together worked so well I had to share it with you. …

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Bliss in a Bar: Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Made Gluten-Free

Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars, rendered gluten-free

Wait no more. The time of year has come at last. NO, not Thanksgiving or Christmas themselves, but the magical day when Starbucks stores across the land start selling their limited-time-only Cranberry Bliss bars. The day arrived just yesterday, November 16th. Starbucks pastries are a mixed bag, in my humble, but this is one of their undeniable runaway hits (also sold by the full tray, if that gives you any indication).

Most of you, as foodies, probably know exactly what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t had one of these, either run right out and pick one up  . . . or keep on reading here and try a homemade version that is also, yes, gluten-free!  Celiacs and other gluten sensitive folk can now partake in the joy, the mmm, the bliss that is Cranberry Bliss….

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Sesame Street Shindig

We must interrupt our regularly scheduled Meatless Monday offering to share with you our weekend collaboration: The second birthday of Lily! Lily (Anne’s daughter and Donna’s granddaughter) has become an ardent fan of Elmo, also known in this household as The Red Menace, and we decided to thrill her with a Sesame-themed party – our favorite part being, of course, the food! We worked with quite a few food blog recipes to make the theme food, and have to share the love here.  …

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Secret Ingredient Flourless Brownies

Black Bean Brownies

Yes, they really are full of beans.

Astonish your family with this recipe! Have them try to guess the secret ingredient – I promise it will take them quite a while, if they ever get it at all. Just looking at the picture, can YOU guess what it is?

I had the pleasure of trying a version of these at a friend’s house last week, and of course couldn’t wait to share it with you here. It’s perfect for gluten-free folks, or for those simply looking to decrease the starch and increase the healthy, fibrous protein in their diets. I haven’t tried making it with a sugar substitute yet, but if you did, it would be a PERFECT low-carb dessert (omitting the chocolate chips, perhaps substituting some pecans or walnuts). Like, award-winning, I daresay. I’m going to have to try this soon, actually – I’ll report back! Have you guessed yet? Okay, without further ado, I present . . . BLACK BEAN BROWNIES.

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