Almond Joy Balls

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As you read this post, I am probably terrified. Gripping the hand of my seatmate. Hurtling through the air at the speed of 576 mph. Oh, and also incredibly excited to descend upon the great city of New Orleans for Mardi Gras! Woohoo!!!

That’s right, Ragini (who you may remember from my Junk in the Trunk Cookies) and I are going to visit our friend Nisha, who is currently doing grad school smartypants things at Tulane! After asking Nisha the all-important questions of “What clothing should I bring?” and “Can we use your shampoo and conditioner?” (Either way, I was going to use hers . . . Spirit’s luggage fees are crazy!) I asked myself the next-most important question: What snacks should I bring?  Continue reading

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German Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies (and Cookie Contest Updates!)

Today was a most exciting day! Last week, I found out that my recipe for S’mores Rice Krispie Squares made it to the final round of the Dallas Morning News Holiday Cookie Contest! Today, all the finalists brought our cookies to Central Market to be taste-tested by the judges.

I didn’t end up winning, but I still had an incredible, sugar-filled time. First, I was very honored to be a finalist alongside all of the cookie hall-of-famers in attendance.

Secondly, no cookie competition is complete without samples, and boy, did this one deliver. Check it out:

My rookie status definitely revealed itself when sampling time came around. While the repeat finalists were armed with tupperware and their running shoes to collect as many cookies as possible, I didn’t even have a napkin in my hand, and so started piling cookies directly onto my . . . hand. Whoops.

Luckily, about five cookies in, I spied a stack of paper napkins, and started filling those up. I finally found an empty plate, and, later, a plastic takeaway box from Central Market. Crazy times. Suffice it to say, I don’t think I’ll need to make/eat any more cookies for approximately two months. Except, really, I shouldn’t kid myself. All the finalists also (very kindly) shared their recipes, and I am super excited to try them out and hopefully adapt some for my blog!

Finally, the lovely contest organizers held a raffle, and I won this book that I was totally eyeing:

I may or may not have squealed and jumped up in a rather unbecoming manner when I found out. Get excited, because this signifies many fun cocktail recipes in your future. Thanks to Dallas Morning News and Central Market for this fantastic opportunity! Thanks also to the lovely Alexa for telling me about the contest in the first place.

Today’s cookie recipe is one that I submitted to the contest in the “Decadent” category.
Even though they didn’t make the finals, I still think they’re pretty bangin’. Can I use that word to describe cookies? I think yes.

These are a spin on the traditional German Chocolate Cake. Truthfully, I’ve never been much of a German Chocolate Cake fan. I always wondered why the inventors put in pecans and coconut instead of . . . well, more chocolate. But, after eating the incredible four-layer cake – one of which was German chocolate – that my sister got for my birthday, I started changing my tune.

I got the idea for a thumbprint cookie from one of my absolute favorite cookie recipes: Martha Stewart’s Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel (ahhh salted caramel!!!). I adapted the recipe to make a chocolate thumbprint cookie rolled in coconut flakes, filled with the evaporated milk frosting, and topped with pecans.

The baked coconut adds an amazing texture to these cookies, and I am (surprisingly) a big fan of the filling as well. These are a definite winner in my book/stomach. Happy Friday! Off to eat more cookies!

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Figgy Chocolate Granola Clusters

I don’t believe in diets. You may be thinking, ‘Has she looked at her recipes lately? Clearly, she doesn’t believe in diets.’ Yeah, yeah.  Seriously, though. I used to believe in diets – stretches of time where I would eat lots of salads and count my calories (something my lazy self is really not cut out for).

In the past couple years or so, though, I changed my food philosophy. I wanted a sustainable, healthy eating lifestyle with ample room for splurges. Like, perhaps, eating three pastries a day? Probably the biggest splurge ever.

Oh, and also, the food consumed this past weekend? Whatever. Everyone knows that birthday weekends are the single biggest allowable splurge in the year.

Okay, so maybe I’m not such the healthy lifestyle model. But who is?

The point is, I’m now trying to make more healthy, delicious food, in order to eat more healthy food. Genius, right? So, in the spirit of healthy eating, I made these granola clusters!

I used applesauce to replace a lot of the oil, plus I used figs (love) to help bind the granola together. In a twist of events (me not reading the labels of products I purchase), I ended up with steel-cut oats instead of my regular rolled oats. And…they were delicious. But, you can use whichever oats you prefer.

Also, with this recipe, you can break up the granola into whatever size chunk you desire. I now have 1) granola bars, 2) granola clusters I can grab by the handful, and 3) small breakfast cereal-sized granola. Perfect for an indecisive person like me. Continue reading

Coconut Brie Brunch Biscuits

I love brunch. No, I adore brunch. Not enough good things can be said about brunch. Brunch is MAGIC.

Butter. Coconut. Brie. Love.

Let’s look at the facts. For what other meal are you encouraged to:

  1. Leisurely sleep in
  2. Saunter to a restaurant in pajamas (okay, not encouraged, per se, but accepted?)
  3. Eat eggs benedict! (my one true egg love)….AND….
  4. Drink cocktails before 4pm without being judged

???

Seriously. Seriously?? That’s what I thought.

Being a brunch person, I’ve put in my time researching Dallas brunch places. Last weekend, I brunched (verb? yes) at Malai Kitchen on the recommendation of D Magazine.

I CANNOT get over that ooey gooey cheese flowing out of these buttery biscuits. Ahh!

Malai Kitchen serves Thai food. You might think this would make for a strange brunch place, but what it really makes for is homemade coconut biscuits oh my wordddd. Shredded coconut flakes inside buttery biscuits, which were really just the base for poached eggs (for eggs benedict!!!)!

So yeah. I made some. With brie. Which I’m casually announcing but not feeling very casual about at all, since I also LOVE brie. But I feel like my love for things might be discredited if I love too many things, so I’m trying to calm it down.

I also added coconut cream. Love! Okay, I’ll stop now.

I highly recommend eating these with melted butter and honey drizzled on top.

Just, make these? For brunch? And then invite me over please! Also, want to know more random things about me (as if you don’t already know too much)? I finallyyy updated my page to reflect my favorite TV shows. So important.

Continue reading

Mini Coconut Banana Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Here’s the thing about minis: Who ever eats just one?

Seriously, though.

When’s the last time you ate one mini Snickers, or one mini Milky Way Midnight (my fav!), and thought, ‘Perfect! That one extremely tiny square of chocolate-nougat goodness was enough to satisfy all of my mid-afternoon chocolate cravings!’ and then went right back to work? …Exactly.

Minis are especially dangerous when they appear in the form of cupcakes. Especially, especially those coconut banana cupcakes that you (ok, well, I) have been dreaming about, topped with coconut cream cheese frosting.

And oh man, let’s talk about cream cheese frosting. How can I adequately describe my feelings on this subject? If you put too much butter in my cream cheese frosting, I might just punch you in the face. There’s a place for butter, and it’s called buttercream frosting. Phew, glad I got that off my chest.

But seriously. This cream cheese frosting is almost 100% cream cheese, with just a little butter and powdered sugar in there to justify the term “frosting.” Confession: I’d actually planned to add a bit of salt and vanilla extract to this frosting, but after I sampled the three-ingredient frosting, I refused to add anything else.

Side note: Am I completely crazy? Is cream cheese fiendish-ness normal? Please, please, if you, too, have strong opinions about cream cheese – one way or the other – let me know!

I could swim in this cream cheese frosting. Okay, actually, not really. But what I can do (and did) is eat this straight from the mixer. And on mini cupcakes. Three of them, to be exactly.

Luckily for me (and you!), these mini cupcakes contain bananas. And coconut (does it matter if it’s sweetened?). So, you’re really just eating small portions of fruit. And who doesn’t need more of that?

Now isn’t it time you went and baked (ate) these?

Mini Coconut Banana Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Banana Nut Coconut Cake)

Yield: 24 mini cupcakes or 12 regular cupcakes

Notes: As stated above, my frosting recipe reflects the fact that I absolutely love cream cheese. If you’re less into it than I am (it’s okay, we can still be friends), feel free to increase the ratio of butter to cream cheese. If you like your frosting sweeter, add more powdered sugar! Also, the frosting recipe makes enough cream cheese frosting for…me. Meaning, it makes a lot. Just a heads up.

Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  2. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  3. 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 4 small or 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  9. 1/4 cup milk
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini cupcake tin with cupcake liners or spray with nonstick spray. You can also use a regular cupcake tin or cake pan.
  2. Cream together sugar and butter, then add in Greek yogurt, egg, and the mashed bananas.
  3. Stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Blend dry mixture in to the creamed mixture. Then, add in milk.
  4. Blend in vanilla extract, then stir in the shredded coconut. Pour into cupcake liners.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  1.  2 packages (16 oz total) of cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  3. 1 cup powdered sugar
  4. 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1.  Blend together cream cheese and butter, then add powdered sugar and blend until desired texture is achieved.
  2. Pipe on top of cupcakes, then sprinkle with shredded coconut.