Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Granola Bar That Will Have You Leave Candy Crying at the Altar...

Am I exaggerating?  Ok, maybe just a little bit, but these granola bars were fantastic!  They have chocolate, sweetness, and none of the blood sugar crash you would get from candy.  And did I mention they have protein and you don't have to bake them?  Oh yeah! 

I started with this recipe from Naturally Knocked Up, but I adjusted it.  I decided I wanted some oats in my bars (instead of them being grain free), and I did not have enough nuts anyways.  I also did not have cranberries, so I subbed in dates (which I think were part of the key of how good these were).

Chocolate Granola Bars
4 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
3/4 cup honey
1 cup sucanat (unrefined sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups roughly chopped nuts (I used a mixture of almonds & walnuts)
2 cups uncooked oats (not steel cut)
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup chopped dates or other dried fruit

In a medium saucepan combine: butter, coconut oil, honey, sucanat, vanilla, and salt.  Place on the stove over low heat until mixture begins to simmer.  Simmer longer for harder bars, less time for "chewy" bars (I think I let it simmer just a few minutes for my soft bars).  In a large bowl stir to combine nuts, oats, cocoa powder, and dried fruit.  Pour the sugar mixture over the top & stir thoroughly.  Pour the mixture into a 9x13 pan and spread evenly (use oiled fingers to press it down into the pan).  Allow to cool completely & then cut.  I kept my bars stored in the refrigerator.

Next time I might try peanut butter in place of the butter...


Friday, October 7, 2011

"Faux" Apple Pie (uses zucchini!) and Sourdough Pie Crust

Did you know that apples are the #1 pesticide containing produce?  For those times when you're craving apple pie but can't afford to buy organic apples, it may sound crazy, but zucchini makes a great substitute!

One year I was looking for recipes to use up all my garden zucchini & I found this recipe for "faux" apple pie that uses zucchini instead of apples.  My husband loves apple pie & couldn't believe it (after he tried it) when I told him I made it using zucchini.  The key is to use lots of spices & the zucchini pick up the flavor of the spices.  My 13 year old loves to take this to school in her lunch, offer samples to her friends, and THEN tell them they just ate zucchini!  I also want to share with you a recipe for sourdough pie crust (since I'm trying to use sourdough in most of my baking now for health reasons).
Sourdough Pie Crust
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil (I used coconut oil)
1/2 cup sourdough starter

With a fork, mix together: flour, salt, baking soda.  Cut in the butter or coconut oil.  Add the sourdough starter & mix thoroughly.  Cover & allow to rest on the counter for 6 hours.

Faux Apple (Zucchini) Pie
2 (9 inch) pie crusts
4 cups zucchini: peeled, cored/seeded, & thinly sliced*
3/4 cup unrefined sugar**
2 tablespoons tapioca
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out your pie crusts (if you haven't already) to 9 inch circles. Place the bottom crust inside your pie pan.  Combine the sugar, tapioca, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch together in a large bowl.  Add the zucchini and lemon juice and mix well.  Pour mixture into the pie crust.  Dot with butter.  Place second crust over the top and pinch the edges together to seal.  Cut 4 vents in the top of the crust.  If desired, brush with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 50 minutes, or until top crust is lightly browned.

*This is very important:  make sure you peel & remove the core of your zucchini.  You do not want zucchini seeds in your pie!  Plus, once you've peeled & cored it, then cut each slice in half, you get a nice "C" shape which more resembles cut apples.

**If you want to play with this recipe a little bit, and pump up the apple flavor, you can reduce the sugar & replace the 1/4 cup lemon juice with 1/4 cup apple juice.  Combine apple juice, zucchini, tapioca, & spices & let sit for 15 minutes so the zucchini can "soak up" the flavors.  By the way, I didn't have any lemon juice, or tapioca, when I made the last pie, so I just left both of them out & it was still fine!


This post is a part of:
Pennywise Platter Thursday
Fightback Friday 
Monday Mania 
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Traditional Tuesdays

Friday, September 9, 2011

Baked Oatmeal, Sourdough & non-Sourdough versions

Baked Oatmeal is a great meal to add to your breakfast line up.  It's almost like cake for breakfast!  In fact, the other day my 12 year old came home from school, saw a bit of leftover baked oatmeal and sliced herself a piece for a snack.  She commented to me, "Mom this is really good!"  To which I replied, "Yea, it's baked oatmeal."  This froze her in her steps, because she refuses to eat oatmeal in any form, so the joke was on her!  (And, no she still refuses to eat baked oatmeal even though she knows now that she likes it- kids!)

Baked Oatmeal can be enjoyed as is, or covered with milk or yogurt.  I actually like it better once it's been refrigerated.  Lately I've modified my recipe to add sourdough starter to the soaking stage of the oatmeal.  It doesn't make it sour at all, and although I'm not sure how much the sourdough starter benefits us by being in the oats- I'm sure it doesn't hurt & probably helps to make it more digestible.  Try some baked oatmeal- besides it's great taste, the spices in here will make your kitchen smell wonderful!  Perfect for fall mornings...
Baked Oatmeal
2 cups oats (for non-sourdough version use 2 1/2 cups oats)
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (for non-sourdough version use 1 3/4 cup buttermilk)

The night before:  combine oats, sourdough starter (if using), and buttermilk in a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl (or do what I do- save dishes by mixing it in a glass 9x13 dish & covering with plastic wrap til morning).  Allow to soak on the counter (not in the refrigerator) overnight.

1/2 cup coconut oil or butter (softened)
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar or maple syrup (I use 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup unrefined sugar)

In the morning: preheat oven to 350.  Beat the oil or butter, eggs, and sweetener in a separate bowl until glossy (or if you're really lazy, like I am sometimes, just throw them on top of the soaked oats without beating first...).  Then add:

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
dash nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla
optional add ins: 2 cups raisins, 2 cups chopped apples or bananas, 2 cups chopped nuts (I like nuts for the extra protein & crunchy texture, but my son doesn't like it that way.)

Combine with oats (if you haven't already just thrown it all together) and pour into a 9x13 baking dish (if it's not already in one).  Bake for 30 minutes.


This recipe is linked to Monday Mania,
Traditional Tuesdays
Real Food Wednesdays
Simple Thursdays

Friday, August 12, 2011

French Toast with Chocolate Whipped Cream and Raspberry Sauce

Sometimes it's fun to make a special breakfast.  Whether it's "just because" or for a birthday or to celebrate an accomplishment, here is a recipe for an extra-special breakfast.  This would be great for Valentine's Day too!

Note:  make the whipped cream & raspberry sauce before you make the french toast.

Do I need to give you a recipe for french toast?  The technique we have in our house I learned from my husband: use one more egg than you have people to feed (this works for up to about 6 people, after that you may want to add a few more).  Whip the eggs thoroughly in a dish or pan that is wider than your bread slices (day old or not too soft bread works best).  Add milk- a little less than the amount of eggs you see.  Add a dash of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla.  Whip it all up.  Pre-heat your pan over medium heat with a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil in it.  Quickly dunk a slice of bread in the egg mixture, flip it if neccessary, then place it on the hot pan (my husband uses a fork for dunking the bread, I prefer to use my fingers so the bread doesn't rip as easily).  After a couple of minutes check the bread to see if the bottom side is browned.  Flip to cook the other side.  Repeat.  You can place the french toast on a try in the oven with the light on to keep them warm while you finish cooking the rest of the slices.

Now for the fun part.  (Yes, it melts quickly!)

Chocolate Whipped Cream
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sucanat or other raw sugar (this makes a "dark" chocolate, if your family needs more sweetness, add to taste)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With your mixer, beat the cream until it starts to get thicker (but not stiff yet).  Add the sucanat, cocoa powder, and vanilla.  Taste & add more sucanat if needed.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.

Raspberry Sauce
3 cups frozen unsweetened raspberries
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all the ingredients in a pan over medium heat.  Cook until berries are juicy & sauce is steaming hot.  Allow to cool slightly.

These recipes are enough for about 4 or 5 people.  You will have leftover whipped cream (unless your crew really likes whipped cream)!  Oh, but there are so many good things to do with leftover chocolate whipped cream...  add it to your coffee, mmm, use it for a fresh fruit dip, or let it freeze for some "faux" ice cream!  (Stir every 30 minutes to break up the ice crystals.)  I also had about a 1/2 cup of leftover raspberry sauce.  I would suggest that after an hour of freezing, when you are stirring up those ice crystals, add in the raspberry sauce so you will have some awesome chocolate raspberry ice cream!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sourdough Oatmeal Cookies or Scones

I found some information about the benefits of sourdough at this post on the Simple Bites blog and you may want to check that out if you're interested in sourdough.  In previous posts I have talked about why I am using more sourdough in my baking.  I have also been exploring a lot of sourdough recipes, including the somewhat unexpected "dessert" category. 

these cookies were a batch I made without raisins, but I like them much better with raisins
Sometimes I find recipes that include sourdough starter, but do not include a "souring" or "soaking" stage- which means the sourdough is only there for flavoring?  I have been adjusting some of these recipes to include a souring stage, thus getting the most health benefits out of using sourdough.  This recipe was one of those & I was pleased with how nicely it turned out (I also reduced the amount of sugar & substituted honey for half of the sugar).  The texture is very similar to a scone, but you can also enjoy it as a dense cookie, or even a snack cake (the first time I made it I was too lazy to do anything other than pour it into a pan & it turned out great, just extend your cooking time).

my scone version

Sourdough Oatmeal Cookies or Scones 
2 cups sourdough starter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unrefined sugar

Thoroughly combine above ingredients & allow to rest (covered) for 6 hours.

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves*
1/2 teaspoon allspice*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4-1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 375.  Mix the spices and baking soda in a separate bowl.  Add to oats mixture along with raisins (you may have to "knead" the dough to get everything well combined).  *I did not have cloves or allspice, you could also try ginger and a dash of nutmeg.

Roll into small or large balls, depending on if you want cookies or scones (for scones I made them the size of biscuits).  Bake on greased cookie sheet for about 12 minutes (longer for scones).  Makes 12 scones or 36 small cookies.


P.S. for those of you who follow this blog, despite my long silence, I am still here!  The last month and a half (and more) have been spent working on finalizing our oldest daughter's adoption, as well as getting ready to come back to the states for summer vacation.  Busy!

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday
Pennywise Platter Thursday
Fight Back Fridays

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Buttermilk Syrup

This recipe originally came to me from Millie over at Real Food for Less Money blog but I have changed a few things about it (less sweetener, less butter) for our tastes.  This syrup is a nice change of pace from the traditional maple.  I've also made it with honey instead of sugar, but the honey in Rwanda has a very strong flavor that I am not a fan of, so I use a mix of honey & sugar.
The other day I made this buttermilk syrup & I think it's rich flavor is almost carmel- like.  Try this on other foods besides pancakes & waffles.  We give two thumbs up to pouring it over oatmeal!  Millie suggests it on ice cream & I think that idea sounds great.  For ease, store any leftovers in a glass container.  The butter will seperate & solidify in the fridge.  When you want to use the syrup you'll just want to place the glass container in a pot of very hot water to make it liquid again.

Buttermilk Syrup
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1/8 cup honey (if you have a mild honey you can try this with 1/4 c. honey & no sugar)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a medium pot (this mixture will get foamy & expand from the baking soda, so don't use a small pot).  Bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil for 8 to 9 minutes or until thickened.

Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Pour into serving container & serve.


This recipe is a part of Real Food Wednesdays

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Transitional Sourdough Pancakes

I would like to share this recipe that I came up with as a compromise for my family, because I am sure there are other families out there who, like mine, are not complete fans of sourdough. I have shared with you why I use sourdough for most of my baking now, and although some families may like sourdough pancakes, mine were not totally sold on it. So I came up with this compromise that is satisfactory for all of us. I call them “Transitional Pancakes” because they are for families who are transitioning to healthier choices.

If you have pancakes leftover simply freeze them (either in a plastic ziploc bag, or in a plastic container, separated by parchment paper. When you need a quick breakfast or snack, you can heat them quickly in the toaster, or for a minute or less on each side in a hot pan (works better with thinner pancakes, obviously, because they will reheat quicker).

Transitional Sourdough Pancakes
(serves 6 to 8)
6 Tablespoons butter or coconut oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup water
1 ½ cups white flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (whole wheat) sourdough starter, fed the night before & stirred down
1 cup milk (or water- use less if you like a thick pancake)
2 Tablespoons honey
2 eggs

Place your pan on the stove over low heat and put the butter or coconut oil in the pan to melt. Get ¾ cup water (I use a one cup measure with a ¾ cup line) and mix in the baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl use a fork to stir together the flour and the salt. Make an indentation in the flour mixture and add the sourdough starter, up to 1 cup milk, honey, and eggs. Using the fork still, mix completely, but do not overmix.  While stirring, pour in the melted butter/oil from the warm pan.  Increase stove temperature to medium.

Right before cooking the pancakes, add the water/baking soda mixture and stir in. (The batter will expand slightly as the baking soda and sourdough react.) Use your cup measure to pour out the desired size pancakes on the warm pan. When bubbles on the surface are just beginning to pop, they’re ready to flip.

You can keep finished pancakes warm until you’re ready to serve by placing them on a metal tray in the oven on the lowest setting (or just with the light on if your oven doesn’t go below 200).

My favorite way to enjoy these pancakes is with peanut butter, sliced bananas, and either real maple syrup, or homemade syrup. The syrup pictured above is homemade buttermilk syrup (recipe to follow soon).

This post is a part of Monday Mania

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sourdough Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Here is a recipe that originally called for no "soaking" or "souring" stage for the dough, but I have modified the recipe to include that stage so we get the most sourdough benefit (if the starter doesn't have time to work on the flour it seems pretty pointless to me to use sourdough starter at all- but you'll find those recipes out there).  I also modified the amount of sugar by replacing more than half with honey.  This is a lightly sweet cookie that my family gobbles up, but if you want it sweeter you may add a sprinkle of sugar to the finished cookies before baking them.  The cocoa is also optional (you can just make them peanut butter cookies) but we like it with the cocoa!
Sourdough Peanut Butter (Chocolate) Cookies
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour (whole wheat or otherwise)

In a medium bowl mix the above ingredients well, cover, & allow to rest for 6 hours.  When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 and add the remaining ingredients to the sourdough mixture:

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 to 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)

Mix well.  The dough may be very sticky at this point (if it's too sticky you can refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to make it easier to handle, but I don't...)  Drop by spoonfulls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (space at least 1" apart).  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.


This post is a part of Kitchen Stewardship's Soaking Grains Gallery, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, and Pennywise Platter Thursday at Nourishing Gourmet.

"Soaked" Snickerdoodle Cake

The other day I was having a serious craving for snickerdoodle cookies.  Some of you may not know about these sugar cookies with a cinnamon crust on the outside, but if you like cinnamon then "snickerdoodles" should be on your radar!  I searched & searched the web for a recipe that involved soaking the flour (see the tab above for "why soak").  What I did finally find was a recipe for a snickerdoodle cupcake that included buttermilk in the ingredients (perfect medium for soaking flour).  I modified the recipe to soak the flour and reduced the sugar as well.  This produces a tender cake that will hopfully hit that "snickerdoodle craving" when you may have it!

"Soaked" Snickerdoodle Cake
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk + 1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, could also substitute yogurt or other soaking medium)

In a small bowl combine these ingredients thoroughly, cover, and allow to rest at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.  When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350, and add to the flour mixture:

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix well, then add in the remaining ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unrefined sugar

When well combined, pour into a greased pan (I used a 10x10, you could use 9x9 for a thicker cake, or 9x13 for a thinner cake). 

For the topping, stir together in a seperate bowl:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sprinkle on top of cake.  Bake in oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool.


This recipe is linked up to Kitchen Stewardship's Soaking Grains Gallery and Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cultural Experiences

I thought this post title was a cute play on words, considering we are living in Rwanda and having so many different cultural experiences, but what I am talking about is yogurt cultures.  I would subtitle this post: "The easiest way ever to make yogurt.  Why make it complicated when you don't have to?"  And when I say easiest, I mean EASIEST. 

I have made yogurt in the past, tried to warm the milk to the right temperature, add the right amount of culture, keep it at the right temperature for the right amount of time, and so on.  My results?  Epic failures!  My last batch of yogurt (I used raw milk & tried to keep it "raw") was so bad that my daughter made me promise to never make yogurt again.  Honestly, it tasted horrible, like mold.

I had heard about the two kinds of yogurt: thermophilic (making yogurt by cooking) and mesophilic (made at room temperature).  I had heard that Cultures for Health has a mesophilic yogurt culture called Viili that is mild & had a nice texture.  But I hadn't been ready to try it until we were preparing to leave the US for Rwanda.  I've lived here before & I know I don't like the yogurt they make here.  I ordered some Viili and put the little packet of dried yogurt starter in my suitcase.

There is no complicated formula for making Viili, I said it was the EASIEST, remember?  You mix it with one cup milk, let it sit for 24 hours, voila, yogurt!  Want more?  Just mix one tablespoon from your batch for every one cup of milk & you can make as much as you want.  You just keep using some of the last batch to make the next batch & that's it.  Subsequent batches don't take 24 hours, usually half that.

This is one of my batches of Viili yogurt.  Why would anyone want to make yogurt any other way?  I don't know, I love it!  And just like everything else that I make homemade, I love knowing exactly what is in it.

If you want to try some of this yourself, you can click on the Cultures for Health banner on the right side of my blog.  I would recommend their products to you no matter what, but if you click through my blog then I get credit for referring you.  Cultures for Health is also where I got my Kefir grains from (I dehydrated those grains & brought them to Rwanda too, but their demise is a sad story.  The house helper saw the little paper packet & thought it was trash.  Out it went... sigh!)  If you've been intrigued by all my talk about sourdough but haven't made your own starter, you can find sourdough starter there as well. 

I am not trying to sell you anything, but I love to share with others when I find something great, and making yogurt this easy had to be shared. 


This post is a part of Monday Mania and Fight Back Fridays

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sourdough Bagels

If you've been following this blog you know I am baking a lot with sourdough now, as I talked about it in this post and why.  I am actually keeping two sourdough starters right now: both a whole wheat and a white flour one.  The white flour one I made to give to someone who works for us and was asking me how to make this "bread without yeast" that I make all the time.  She never took her starter home, but I have maintained it & use it for two reasons.

One: my kids, especially the Rwandan ones, are not huge fans of whole wheat (ok, the Rwandan kids don't like it at all- it's not used here).  So, I usually go half & half with whole wheat and white flour in my baking, just to compromise.  I need the white flour starter to do this when I make sourdough pancakes & also because of reason number Two: whole wheat flour is not sold in stores here.  I get mine (lucky for me) from a friend who gets it directly from the flour mill in bulk.  But sometimes I run out before I can get more from her.

You will notice in the picture that these bagels are all white flour- this is one of those weeks when I was completely out of whole wheat flour for several days.  Oh, how my kids loved having all white bread, but that's over now, I've got my whole wheat flour again- ha!

Back to the bagels- bagels really are easy to make- just as easy as bread, with only one extra step and that is to boil them before you bake them.  Simple & yummy!  The depth of "sourness" in these will depend on how long you let the dough rest.  The minimum of 6 hours will not be near as sour as say the 10 or so hours mine had.  Mine had a defnite "San Francisco sourdough" twang to them.  We had ours with fried eggs for breakfast, sandwich style.  Yum!

I cruised the internet quite a bit looking for a bagel recipe which did not require me to measure flour in grams & such, and finally found this recipe archived at a cute blog called WillowTreeCreek Farm which now has moved to

Sourdough Bagels

1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup oil (I used olive)
1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour
1 egg
optional: spices or seeds for topping
1/8 cup salt for boiling water

In a medium mixing bowl stir together the starter, oil, water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 cups of flour.  Add more flour if needed to make a smooth, not sticky, dough.  Knead dough for a few minutes.  Place dough back in bowl & cover well.  Allow dough to rest for 6 or more hours (note: my dough did not rise very much, so yours may not either).

Prepare your work area: either dust your counter with flour or lay out a piece of parchment paper.  Divide your dough in half, each half in half again, and each of those in half again.  Now you have 8 equal pieces of dough to shape into bagels.  If you prefer bigger bagels you may want to only make 6.  Roll each piece of dough into a ball.  Poke your finger into the middle & work it around to make the size of hole you want. Set on the flour dusted counter top or parchment paper.  Once all bagels are formed, cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap (or damp towel?) and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 and put water into a large pot to boil.  You may also get out toppings if you're using any.  Once water has come to a rapid boil, add 1/8 cup salt & stir to combine.  Gently drop the bagels into the bowling water, up to 4 at a time if your pot is big enough.  Boil for about 2 minutes and remove to a rack using a slotted spatula (I don't have a rack, so I just placed them on the clean counter).  Repeat with remaining bagels.

In a small bowl whisk an egg.  You can either brush the egg on top of the bagels, or do what I did: pick up the bagel & dip the top half into the egg.  If using toppings, dip your bagels into those.  Place on a baking sheet lined with cornmeal or parchment paper (or a Silpat in my case).  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden in color.


This recipe is a part of Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist
GNOWFGLIN's Tuesday Twister.
Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grain-Free Nutbutter Brownies with a Cheesecake Swirl

Recently Food Renegade posted this recipe, via Megan Keatley of the blog Health-Bent (her blog subtitle: "Paleo friendly recipes that don't look or taste like dog food"- love it!)  I tried out the recipe and I just have to share it with you, in case you missed it, because it is really sooo good!  She recommends using a 9x9 pan, but all I have is a 10x10 pan so mine are thin, but still delicious!  Next time I may try them in a muffin tin - if you have a mini muffin tin you could make brownie bites.  Just make sure to watch them carefully in the oven because you'll have to reduce the cooking time.

You can try any nut butter you prefer: here in Rwanda we have something similar to peanuts (just called "ground nuts") that they make a nut butter from.  For the "cream cheese" I used yogurt cheese made from plain yogurt drained through a coffee filter inside a strainer (left in a bowl in the refrigerator- save the whey for "soaking").  And we don't have chocolate chips so I didn't add any of those in, but these're great already without them!

Nutbutter Brownies with a Cheesecake Swirl
Brownie layer:
1 cup nut butter (almond butter, peanut butter, etc.)
2 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup unrefined sugar (i.e. raw sugar, turbinado, sucanat)
1/3 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (optional)

Cheesecake layer:
8 oz. (1 cup) cream cheese or yogurt cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup unrefined sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional: substitute with mint, almond, orange, etc.*)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Oil or butter a 9x9 pan (or whatever you are using).

Mix together all the brownie ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir or whisk until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan.  (then lick the bowl clean... oh wait, did I say that?)

 Stir or beat cream cheese until smooth, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Drop by spoonfuls all over the top of the brownie batter.  Use a toothpick or knife to lightly draw through the cream cheese mixture, swirling & circling as desired (don't overdo it or instead of nice designs you'll just have it all mixed together).

Bake for about 35 minutes (less if using a different size pan)The top will be cracked and the cheesecake mixture just starting to brown.  Cool completely & then refrigerate.  Serve cold (like cheesecake).


*another option to try with this recipe would be to add shredded coconut & coconut extract to the cream cheese layer.  I think that would taste great as well!