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A Healthier Take on Strawberry Shortcake for a Big Group

I want to eat this all day, every day.

It’s no secret that there are a few select foods that I could literally could eat every single day and not get tired of them.  Nachos (and I do), a good burger, and my homemade strawberry shortcake.  My homemade strawberry shortcake is sublime.

I stumbled upon this recipe years ago when I needed to come up with a dessert for like 15 people.  Individual shortcakes would have been way too time-consuming (and quite frankly they’re kind of dry), but I had it stuck in my head that I wanted to use the pounds of strawberries that my mom had.  And then I found the original recipe I’ve adapted here…as my original post mentioned, I’m obsessed.  It’s literally the best.

healthier-strawberry-shortcake-for-a-big-group-nessa

But, as with many recipes, I wanted to see if there was a way to make it just a tad more healthy—cut down on the calories just a bit, but also bringing in some healthier elements.  And the fact is, I might like this version even just a bit more.

I cut the sugar a bit, and it definitely doesn’t lose anything.  And then I’ve substituted half of the flour for whole wheat (or white whole wheat, which is a bit softer), which gives it a great heartiness and also a slightly nutty, warm flavor that I really love.  You can make this ahead of time when feeding a big group and it’s the most moist, fragrant, yummy summer dessert I can think of.  Pair it with fresh strawberries and a bit of homemade cinnamon whipped cream, and you’ve got yourself a winner! [Read more…]

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Snickerdoodle Zucchini Bread

This bread is the BOMB!

Snickerdoodle zucchini bread...cinnamon-sugar is my kryptonite

Cinnamon-sugar is my kryptonite in general, so it’s no surprise that I was drawn to this recipe.  It’s all the best things about my snickerdoodle bread (which is amazing, but also will make a major dent in your calories for the day), combined with a bit of whole wheat flour and fiber from zucchini.  Make no mistake, this is definitely a breakfast dessert, but it’s now only a bit of splurge rather than a complete diet derail.

Snickerdoodle zucchini bread...plenty of sweet, with a bit of healthy mixed in

The hardest thing is finding the cinnamon chips—if you see them, buy like 6 bags!  (Though this may be part of the scarcity problem…).  I think Hershey’s discontinued theirs, so I’ve been buying them on the Amazon black market, and will need to look elsewhere soon.  Cinnamon chips are seriously the best, and appropriate in all manner of delicious breakfast and dessert recipes.

Snickerdoodle zucchini bread

This was a hit at work.  And I had trouble keeping my hands off it.  I had a piece with my morning espresso, but went back several times throughout the day for another bite.  I probably had three pieces total, one bite at a time! [Read more…]

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Banana Bread

Most normal people would look at a recipe for double chocolate banana bread and think, “hey, that sounds pretty amazing!”

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Banana Bread done

But as we all know, I’m not normal.  So my first thought was, “You know what would make this so much better? Peanut butter chips!”

(weirdly, this is a fairly normal question/answer I have with myself…)

double chocolate peanut butter chip banana bread chips

Healthy?  Nah.  But amazing?  You betcha.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Banana Bread slice

This is super moist, almost fudgy, and the peanut butter chips take this to a whole new level.  It’s not unhealthy (in fact, most of it’s not bad for you at all), but the peanut butter chips take this over the edge into dessert territory and up the calories and sugar quite a bit.  Totally worth it in my world, though.   [Read more…]

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake

So, I really am struggling with calling this cake.

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake

It’s honestly not that sweet at all. It’s got a light crumb, and feels a lot like a zucchini or banana bread (maybe a bit less moist than banana bread).

rosemary chocolate chip olive oil cake baked

I was really intrigued by the sweet and savory combination, with the rosemary. To be honest, the flavor didn’t bowl me over, mostly because I felt like the chocolate overwhelmed things a bit. It was simple and good, but not earth-shattering.

rosemary chocolate chip olive oil cake rosemary

I’m a sucker for rosemary, and fresh herbs in general, and love the idea of using them in baking sweets. As I was eating this, I kept re-imagining it as a slightly different flavor combo, particularly citrus and herb. Maybe lemon and rosemary, or grapefruit and thyme? Something a little punchy to contrast with the earthiness of the herbs. Let me know if you have ideas! But regardless, this really was a lovely breakfast treat, and got totally devoured at work in an hour or two. [Read more…]

Whole-Grain Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Yeah, I went on something of a muffin-baking bender a couple months back. In a couple of weeks I made these double chocolate banana muffins and these healthy apple muffins with cinnamon-sugar topping, and somehow these guys fell off the radar.

Healthy Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Yeah, you’ll notice that there are two whole wheat, apple-y, cinnamon-y muffin recipes.

Funny story…

caramel glazed apple bread apples sliced

I made the first recipe for work, the one with the crunchy topping. It got rave reviews, but the pictures I took were terrible so I knew I’d need to make it again to get better shots.

So I pulled the ingredients together, started stirring everything together, and was like, “Wow, I must have been really out it when I made this the first time, because I don’t remember some of these steps!”.  Then I got the batter together and started to spoon it into the muffin tins, and was worried about how much more liquidy it was than the last time I made it.

Some of you can see where this is going…

healthy apple cinnamon streusel muffins batter tins 2

Yeah, not the same recipe.

So this is the second recipe, the one I made on accident. I loved the streusel topping, and the muffins were SO moist. Definitely recommend this one! [Read more…]

Slightly-Sweet Unleavened Bread

Most years I try to make it home for Passover and the first Day of Unleavened Bread. It’s nice to spend the time with my parents and sister, bro-in-law, and their squidlets.

kansas from the sky

The trip started with a pre-3:30am (Eastern) wake-up to catch a 5:35am flight, stop over in Dallas for a bit, then descend into Wichita. Needless to say, I was really dragging all weekend…

slightly sweet unleavened bread nessa

My sister tried out a new unleavened bread recipe when we went to their house for Passover Thursday night, and we loved it so much that I made it again the next day (and again when I got back to Atlanta). I had the cutest little helper that there ever was…

Slightly Sweet Unleavened Bread sliced

I love this unleavened bread.  It’s dense but not dry, hearty and satiating (due to the whole wheat flour and butter), and has a hint of sweet from the brown sugar and honey. It was also just as good leftover as fresh out of the oven.

Slightly Sweet Unleavened Bread done

Even better—you can mix it up by hand, pat out on the baking sheet, and it’s ready in half an hour, from start to finish! [Read more…]

Giant Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Skillet Cookie

Cookie cakes are a big meh for me usually. One time my co-worker had this incredibly detailed dream, and part of it was that I got married at work (like seriously, back in the open-office plan desks) and there was a cookie cake.

And I was like, “Well, that’s how you should have known it wasn’t real! I hate cookie cakes!”

Giant Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Skillet Cookie

I don’t know what possessed me to try this deep-dish cookie pie originally. I was home for Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is a whirlwind of giant family meals, needing to feed 15 people, 25 people, 35 people. Lots of dishes. Loading and unloading things from the car. Figuring out what gaps there are in the list of food everyone’s bringing. So I vaguely remember needing to throw together a dessert last-minute, so it needed to be simple, a crowd-pleaser, and ready to walk out the door in under an hour.

Giant Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Skillet Cookie done

The result was WAAAAAYYYYY too sweet for me, but I could see the seeds of something good and easy in there, so I shelved it until I could play around with ingredients a little. Now, three or four batches later, I love the result.

Giant Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Skillet Cookie finished

By decreasing the sugar significantly, substituting some whole wheat flour, adding peanut butter and dark chocolate chips instead of just semi-sweet, and throwing a sprinkle of sea salt, the resulting skillet cookie is sweet but not cloying, a little denser, and offers infinitely more complex flavors (also healthier, but that wasn’t the main point). If an achingly sweet version sounds good to you, don’t fear—the original is linked at the bottom of this post. But this version is much more up my alley, and has been pronounced AMAZING by some of the dudes in my life, so it’s still a major crowd-pleaser.
[Read more…]

Pear Cake with Honey Glaze

Isn’t it great that breakfast means you can have all kinds of dessert-y things but it’s totally fine because it’s breakfast? Like, people would find you weird if you ate chocolate cake for breakfast, but coffee cake? Totally cool.

Pear Cake with Honey Glaze

This is one of those super-good-desserts-but-also-totally-appropriate-for-breakfast recipes. It’s adapted from an apple cake I made a while ago—I remember thinking at the time that I just HAD to try it with pears (one of my favorite fruits), but never got around to it. This winter break I found myself with several insanely juicy and fragrant Harry & David pears and knew right away what I must do with them.

Pear Cake with Honey Glaze done

This cake really is the best of both worlds. It’s my kind of dessert—lightly sweet, hearty, a mix of warm and comforting flavors. But it’s also really quite healthy. I use white whole wheat flour entirely, which not only gives it lots of fiber but also a wonderful nutty flavor and great texture. It’s made with oil, I cut back on the sugar the original recipe calls for, and it’s full of fruit and nuts as well. As breakfast goes from time to time, you could do worse.

pear cake with honey glaze pears

Look at these guys…aren’t they gorgeous?! [Read more…]

Easy Drop Biscuits from Outlander Kitchen

These biscuits are SO easy and SO good!

Easy Drop Biscuits from Outlander Kitchen

It’s no secret that I adore biscuits. They’re buttery and flaky and warm, you can put jam and honey on them, and they feel so good in my belly! But there are two things about biscuits that I don’t love. I really hate having to cut cold butter into flour—it may be irrational, but I really hate it. And while biscuits are amazing straight out of the oven, they’re usually dense, dry balls of bread that get stuck in your windpipe and try to choke them to death when you eat them as leftovers.

Easy Drop Biscuits

But no more! For Thanksgiving this year I needed to make another kind of bread for our hungry horde. We already had rolls, so I thought some kind of biscuit. The problem is that making regular biscuits for a big group is time consuming, and if they have to sit around for a while they’ll start to get dry and stale. Enter these amazing, easy drop biscuits…

easy drop biscuits raw

These use melted butter, and stirring everything together takes a couple minutes tops. You get this shaggy dough that you can use a spoon or ice cream scoop to plop directly into the pan, so no cleanup from having to roll out and cut the biscuits. And the taste and texture! Not only are they amazing right out of the oven, but we re-heated them for dinner that night and scarfed the last couple the next morning, and they still were light and fluffy as leftovers. So basically perfect. [Read more…]

Persimmon Muffins with Lemon & Cardamom

I went on a roll this fall of trying new fruits and veggies that I’d never had before.  I tried acorn squash for the first time (definitely delish!), and then that same week saw these weird little orange tomato-like things in my grocery store and just had to grab one. Turns out it was a persimmon, specifically of the fuyu variety.

Persimmon Lemon Cardamom Muffin

So the next logical question was what to make. I browsed a ton of recipes, but most were salads, and I definitely didn’t want to go that route (boring). Then I found this somewhat odd-sounding muffin recipe and had to give it a try.

Persimmon Lemon Cardamom Muffins

I “healthied it up” by using half whole wheat flour and cutting down on the sugar just a little. The persimmons gave it a lovely sweetness, with the lemon giving it a tart complement. The overall texture of the muffins was pretty light but still hearty, due to the whole wheat flour. And, like most muffin recipes, they came together in a flash.

Persimmon Lemon Cardamom Muffins with Blackberry Honey

I ate one fresh out of the oven with blackberry honey from Croatia, and then took them to work for my breakfast for the next few days (with honey from New Zealand…I definitely have a honey souvenir addiction!). This is such an easy and versatile recipe that you could swap out the persimmons for many other fruits, and even swap in a different citrus zest to mix things up (orange would have been lovely here as well). [Read more…]

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