Monthly Archives: June 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars

Cheesecake Cookie Bars

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In honor of it being Friday and almost the weekend, here’s a sweet treat for ya! This dessert has a little bit of everything wonderful … chocolate, peanut butter AND cheesecake, how can you go wrong? Weekends are times for a little splurging, so go ahead and don’t feel bad 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • â…“ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • ½ cup quick-cook oats
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • â…“ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1.  Cream together the butter, sugars and peanut butter until smooth. Add the egg and mix until combined.  Slowly add in the flour and baking soda. Stir in the chocolate chips and oats (it may seem like a lot of chocolate chips, but trust me it’s necessary). Set aside.
  2. Beat the softened cream cheese and sugar until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again.
  3. Butter a 9 inch square baking dish (I actually used a 7×11 inch dish, just as long as you don’t use a 9×13, that will be a little too big). Press 1/2 to 2/3 of the cookie mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cookie dough and spread it into an even layer. Crumble the remaining cooking dough evenly over the top of the cream cheese.
  4.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or so, until the top cookie layer starts to turn light golden and the cream cheese layer is set. Cool and cut into bars and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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Slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum


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Almond Butter

Almond Butter

This recipe (more of a method really, because you can use any nut you’d like) is one of my go-to’s! From what I’ve read almond butter is better for you than peanut butter, and has more protein. Making homemade nut butters is easy, all you need is a food processor and you’re good to go. My favorite is almond, with cashew in a close second. Almonds are slightly harder than many other nuts, which is why I usually add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to help it come together and smooth out. Enjoy it on apples, bananas, toast, rice cakes … whatever your heart desires!

Almond Butter

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • sea salt, to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil (if needed)


  1. Place the almonds in a large food processor. Turn the food processor on and process for about one minute until the almonds are very finely ground and start to clump together.
  2. Stir the almonds and process again for another minute. At this point I usually drizzle in about 1-2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to help it come together. The oil helps the butter to become more creamy.
  3. Continue to process and stop and stir the mixture until it becomes your desired butter consistency. It may take a little while to come together, just be patient. The longer you process the butter the more the oils are developed and the looser the constancy will be.

Almond Butter

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Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad

I have mentioned before that I can’t get enough quinoa, in particular quinoa salads. Lots of fresh raw veggies and gluten-free quinoa all covered with a delicious dressing, it’s perfection! This southwest and black bean salad is one of my favorite recent creations. It has the perfect hint of lime and smokey cumin in every bite. I love that it is a meat-less dish, but is still filling enough even for dinner. And it almost requires no heat to make (except for 20 minutes to cook the quinoa) … which makes it great for a hot day when the last thing you want to do is use the oven!

Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 – 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 of a 14 oz. can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 or 2 avocados, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (I actually used 1 1/2 teaspoons because I love cumin)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly and place in a medium sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Put quinoa in a large bowl to cool.
  2. While the quinoa cools chop the peppers, onions, and cilantro and place them in a large bowl.
  3. Prepared the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice and spices.
  4. Add the quinoa, black beans and corn to the large bowl of veggies, stir to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir well. Gently fold in the diced avocado, or top each serving with diced avocado. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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Blueberry French Toast Casserole with Raspberry Syrup

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In my world it is acceptable to have breakfast for any meal of the day. Why save such tastiness for just the morning time? This french toast casserole is easy to make ahead and pop in the oven when you’re ready. I have never made it the night before, but I think as long as you use a sturdy bread (so it doesn’t break down too much) that should work fine. It has a lovely, warm almond flavor from the almond extract.

Note about extracts: make sure you buy pure extracts rather than imitation extracts. The imitation ones are usually cheaper, but why eat something that is an impostor chemically made up to imitate the real thing, when you can just have the real thing!?


Blueberry French Toast Casserole with Raspberry Maple Syrup

  • 8-9 cups of bread of your choice (I’ve used 100% whole wheat and ciabatta) about 1 loaf, diced into large cubes
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (could use any kind of milk)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Raspberry Syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup


  1. Liberally butter a deep 9×13 baking dish. Place cubed bread in baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, milk, maple syrup, extracts and cinnamon. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread. Toss the bread cubes with your hands until all of the bread is coated in the egg mixture.
  3. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure all of the bread is moistened. Before baking stir in the blueberries.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and there is no more liquid between the bread.
  5. While the casserole is baking, place the raspberries and syrup in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm over the french toast.

Blueberry French Toast Casserole with Raspberry Syrup


Filed under Breakfast

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Have you ever had the chicken lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s? Oh boy they are tasty! This recipe is an easy and healthier way to recreate them at home. It’s a great summer dinner recipe. The iceberg lettuce is crisp and crunchy, and the chicken filling has a delicious garlic, ginger and peanut flavor.

P.F. Chang’s Copy-Cat Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 lb. lean ground chicken
  • small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons reduced sodium tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 of an 8 oz. can of water chestnuts, drained and sliced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
  • iceberg lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried


  1. In a medium microwave safe bowl combine ingredients starting with the sesame oil through the chili garlic sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the ground chicken for 3-4 minutes then add the diced onions. Add the garlic and ginger when the chicken is almost cooked all the way through, and finish cooking.
  3. Microwave the bowl of sauce ingredients for 25 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add the sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Add the green onions, water chestnuts and peanuts. Serve in iceberg lettuce cups.

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Make about 6 servings. Adapted from


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