Category Archives: Desserts

Paleo Banana Bread


In a quest to cut/limit sugar and in general eat a little healthier, I have been adapting my diet to be more paleo-esque. I don’t know that I could ever or would ever want to go totally paleo because I love cheese too much, but when I can cut a corner here and there and aspire to paleo-ness I like to do it. Typically, low-carb or paleo adaptations of things are good if you’re lucky but a far cry from the original item you know and love. I have to say that this is most definitely NOT the case with this banana bread!

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S’mores Pops

These were a great idea that Eileen got from the blog Carrots n Cake and were quick and easy and a big hit at the Labor Day BBQ that we brought them to.  These s’mores pops bring the campfire taste indoors or anywhere with less mess, but the lack of melty marshmallow and chocolate is a slight loss in the trade off.  Your hair wont smell like campfire for 3 showers though and I think that is worth it!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches

We and especially I never make desserts so this is a real rarity.  I love oreos and would say they are my favorite manufactured cookie so the cookie sandwich idea is a big hit with me.  I also love the ice cream cookie sandwiches that look like this.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to reconstruct oreos and am always a sucker when I see cookie sandwiches at street table bakeries like the ones they have set up in the Strip on weekends.  The cookies or icing were not too difficult to make, but I was a little slow since I don’t have much experience in baking.

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I rarely make sweets, but I’ve now made these cookies twice in the past three weeks. Twice!  They are so good and I want you to have the recipe. Oddly enough, it’s from Williams-Sonoma. Awesome store, but who knew they also had awesome recipes? Well not me, but I was pleasantly surprised. I bet your wondering how I found it.

I found the recipe by using the search terms ‘oatmeal raisin cookie recipe baking powder’. This is because when I was at the grocery store purchasing the ingredients to make cookies, sans any type of recipe, I assumed I had both baking powder and baking soda at home. To my dismay, only the former was true and I as without baking soda, which is in practically every oatmeal raisin cookie recipe on the internet. Or so I thought… until I found this little gem of a recipe  that only required baking powder, not soda. Hooray!Aren’t you glad you know now?

The first time I made the cookies I followed the recipe exactly and if you can’t tell from above, I loved the way they turned out. I brought them to a work-related event and they got some good reviews. For the second time around, I played with the ingredients slightly. I used almond flour instead of traditional all-purpose flour and I added some chopped walnuts. Flavor wise they came out great once again! Texture wise, I think the use of the almond flour left them a little flat and a little sticky. This was fine for me though, because they were for my consumption only this time!

My ingredients:

Walnuts, almond flour, raisins, rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, brown sugar, an egg, and butter.

The first step is to mix the dry ingredients (flour, oats, raisins, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nuts (if using- I used 1/2 cup) and set them aside.

Next, you want to mix the butter and brown sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer.

Why yes, that is an entire stick of butter. Next time I want to try a lower fat substitute, but for now, here’s the real deal.

At this point you want to add the egg and the vanilla extract and continue to mix.

It looks pretty similar to the above photo at this point, just a little creamier.

Next, add the dry ingredients to this bowl and mix with the electric mixer until all the ingredients are combined (about one minute).

Electric mixers rock!

Scoop them out onto the baking sheet (about 12 per sheet).

Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees and let cool on a wire rack. When the cookies are ready, remove with a metal spatula. The recipe suggests cooking one baking sheet at a time.

These cookies have provided great fuel for my morning runs in this sauna they call Maryland. This is a great little oatmeal raisin cookie recipe and I look forward to working from it in the future to make healthier versions. I’ll keep you posted on that!

– Eileen 🙂

Sushi Party!


Last year on Christmas I gave Greg a sushi making kit- it was something I put together for him with all of the sushi making essentials and we have been making sushi ever since. Well, he has been making sushi and I have been the sous chef.  We decided to show off our skills and invited a few folks over to partake in a sushi party.  Greg has two friends that live in Japan right now and one happened to be in town with his Japanese girlfriend (as in, lived in Japan her whole life and only in the states visiting right now kind of Japanese!!).  The pressure was on! In preperation for this event, I contacted Melanie at the Whole Foods in Silver Spring to let her know we’d be stopping by the store to pick up some ingredients. She graciously met with us and was so generous! Thank you Melanie! We picked up some beautiful looking seafood, produce, and some odds and ends and headed home to begin making the sushi.

One thing I have struggled with as the sous chef is making the rice. Obviously, this is an essential element to the sushi, but man, I just can’t get it right! Our Japanese guests highly suggested using a rice cooker, which I have but did not use. I will definitely try that next time. For this go round, however, I made it on the stove top and used this:

I followed the directions to a tee. First rinsing it and cooking it exactly how the container’s directions suggested.

It looked pretty good and I was encouraged! It was a teeny bit crunchy still though- wtf?!

According to our Japanese guests, any short grain rice will do and you don’t have to purchase “sushi” rice. So American, right? They made a great analogy to their experience eating bread at Italian restaurants  in Japan. It’s bread, it tastes like bread, but it’s not as good as “real” Italian bread. That’s pretty much how this rice was for them-  standard rice, but not GOOD rice.  Next time, I may try to buy Japanese rice… eek!

While the rice was cooking we prepared the fixings, fish, and other fillers.

I purchased this wasabi and  pickled ginger at Whole Foods.

It’s powdered wasabi so in order to make it you combine equal parts powder and water to form the paste.

I made a lot!

I pulled out the shiso leaves because I never had them before. Pretty lame, I know.

We purchase three types of fish (tuna, snapper, and salmon) and some shrimp (for shrimp tempura rolls). The quality of the fish was excellent- look how pretty!

The (heart shaped) tuna!

The snapper ( I believe of the red variety).

The salmon (so gorgeous!).


We tempura battered and fried the shrimp.

Everything needed to be cut down to size for the rolls. We sliced up the fish and also the cucumber and avocado that would go in many of the rolls.

So, now on to the fun, yet most difficult part. We used these nori sheets:

We added rice wine vinegar to the rice.

and the sushi rolling began…

This was a spicy salmon roll.

Uh, yeah! That’s a sushi roll on a Steelers plate.

Next, the making of the shrimp tempura roll.

The whole rolling process went on for nearly 2 hours- I kid you not! It takes a lot of time and hard work, but just look at these results! MMMMM….

The “everything roll” (above)- all three types of fish, cucumber and avocado and a crazy assortment below.

I could not get the camera in focus for these close-ups because I am clueless when it comes to cameras, but I wanted you to see the shrimp tempura roll (front) and the salmon roll behind it.

Below, another out of focus shot (grr!) of the tuna rolls.

There were so many combinations of rolls and we also made some nigiri.

All in all, TONS of sushi!

Everyone happily ate and we almost finished it all! We had about 8 pieces leftover, which is not bad at all! We also got the chance to open some Saki that had been given to us for Christmas, by none other than one of our guests tonight! I have never been into Saki, but this one was really good! It was served cold and did not taste like rubbing alcohol, which is always a plus :]

For dessert, we served tiramisu. Wait, what? That’s not Japanese. Yeah, I know, but I had most of the ingredients and everyone loves it. I followed my own recipe and it came out great! I actually made it two days in advance this time, which worked really well. Everyone scarfed it down, so I take that as a success!

Flourless peanut butter cookies

My peanut butter obsession of late is clearly not going anywhere. I happened to be watching Paula Dean when she made a recipe that I would actually considering making. This cookie, which she deemed “magical”, is sugar free and is not made with flour, therefore it is very low carb! The ingredient list is short (only four ingredients) and I have all them in my pantry/fridge so it was just a matter of time… Well, the other night I decided to make her recipe.

I reduced the Splenda by nearly half because although I love sweets, Splenda is super sweet and artificial tasting and I prefer to have the peanut butter be the main thing I taste. I also did not dip my fork in Splenda when I flattened them nor did I sprinkle any Splenda on top.  Other than that, I did not make any changes to her recipe and believe me, they were sweet enough! Next time though, I will cook them for longer than the suggested cooking time of 12 minutes, since they did come out a little crumbly. Although the texture is a bit off and these cookies are very dense due to the lack of flour or baking powder, they taste pretty good! I will probably play around with this recipe a bit more in the future, but overall a decent recipe from the queen of all things butter.

Like I said, it’s a pretty simple recipe. First you combine peanut butter and Splenda. I have been into the Natural Jif lately, which does not have any added sugar.

and add the remaining two ingredients, an egg and some vanilla extract

roll into balls


I baked them for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Next time I’ll probably bake them for about 15 minutes.

These have been great with my morning cup of coffee or with milk. You will definitely need a beverage of some kind with these! Hope you like them.

Recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Tiramisu- Take 2

So my last venture into the world of dessert making was rather unsuccessful 😦 However, I remained determined and think I might have nailed down a great tiramisu recipe! Although I followed a similar recipe to last time, it just looked better at each step. I also added homemade whipped cream which helped a lot in terms of getting that “fluffy” filling that I have come to expect in my tiramisu!

I started off by beating the egg yolks for several minutes until they were lemony yellow and thick. I then continued to beat them over a double boiler for almost ten minutes.  After that, I let them cool for a few minutes and then added the marscapone… already looking much thicker than last time!

I then whipped heavy cream (1st time doing this!)

Then combined the two.

I got my station all set up here.

I used a smaller, but taller dish this time.

The first layer of dipped lady fingers.

topped with half of the cheese/whipped cream mixture

the view from the top

I then just repeated with another layer of dipped lady fingers and the remaining cheese/cream mixture.

It’s a face!

After several hours in the fridge and a chocolate dusting it was ready to eat!

It was still a little soupy when it was time for serving, but we weren’t too interested in waiting any longer 🙂

After a couple of days in the fridge it held together much nicer…I would suggest refrigerating it overnight before serving to guests. If the way it looks is not important to you, then no need to wait!

Overall, I was much more happy with the way it turned out this time than last. I still learned some more things this time around (like I probably could have whipped the cream a little more) and that will make the next one even better.  I still have more lady fingers, so attempt #3 should be pretty soon…

Recipe for tiramisu

Tiramisu: attempt # 1

I rarely make desserts, but I wanted to give tiramisu a try. As I began the research process I was already a bit overwhelmed because there are literally hundreds of variations and recipes out there. I looked through A LOT of recipes and decided to go with two recipes that were fairly similar. One was from Giada De Laurentiis and the other one I found somewhere else on the internet (?). I integrated the second recipe because it was very similar to Giada’s (which I already had all the ingredients for and there was 30 inches of snow on the ground) and because it directed me to cook the egg yolks, which Giada did not. I was bringing this tiramisu to a Superbowl party and I did not want to make anyone sick, so I decided to combine the recipes to make sure I cooked the eggs properly.

It all started off ok…

I first separated the egg yolks from the whites.

Next I added the sugar.

Then it was time to beat. According to Giada I could have just mixed this for five minutes and then integrated the marscapone. As I mentioned though, I had some reservations about serving uncooked eggs to the masses so I mixed for five minutes and then continued to beat the mixture over a double boiler (as suggested in many recipes I read).

Since this process heated (cooked?) the egg/sugar mixture, I placed it in the fridge to cool before I beat in the marscapone cheese. I took this time to set up the other ingredients. In all of my recipe digging, I learned that it was very important to use authentic ingredients, including savoiardi lady fingers, marscapone, and Italian espresso.I never used marscapone before and it’s American equivalent is supposedly cream cheese. I found the texture to be way more gooey than cream cheese, but many recipes say you can substitute for it.

Once the eggs were cooled, I mixed in the marscapone cheese.

This mixture was not only the filling, but also the topping. It tasted really good, but as you can see the texture is not right. It’s not fluffy enough. Many other recipes integrated whipped cream at this point and now I know why. I didn’t have any whipping cream so I just went with what I had (and what the recipes I had told me to do). I poured it over a layer of espresso/rum soaked lady fingers with hopes that maybe the cheese filling would fluff up in the fridge.


I refrigerated it for a couple of hours, but it didn’t fluff up at all 😦 I was pretty dismayed because it doesn’t look like tiramisu, or at least what I am used to seeing. I went ahead and added the chocolate powder (and later added shavings) anyway and continued to refrigerate it, hoping, hoping, hoping, but to no avail. This is what it ended up looking like.

It ended up tasting ok, but the texture was off and obviously it didn’t look right either. I learned a lot from this initial effort though and next time I make it I will definitely work off of a recipe that includes whipped cream or egg whites, or something to fluff it up!  I bought too many lady fingers, so the next attempt may be sooner than later. I will keep you posted!