Homemade Cherry Pie

Why is it that when you hand-pick your own fruit, it automatically tastes 100x's better?

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Does the fresh-picked fruit really taste better, or is it automatically more special in our minds - so we just think it tastes better? Well, it's probably a little bit of both.

But, either way, growing (or at least picking your own produce) is always better in more ways than one.   

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When my dad picked cherries last year, we pitted bowls of them at the kitchen table. Overflowing bowls meant many pies, jams and some extra bags to freeze. Those cherries went into a few pies this spring, including this pie that was at the table during Easter brunch this past weekend. 

It's my mom's cherry pie recipe. And one to keep on-hand if you find yourself by a cherry tree this year.  

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This past weekend, when my dad told everyone that the cherries were hand-picked and the crust was homemade, this cherry pie automatically reached pie excellence before anyone even took a bite. It's what I like to call the magic of homemade.

Mom's Homemade Cherry Pie

9-inch Pie Crust: 

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, cubed (or shortening/Crisco) 
  • 8 tablespoons ice-cold water

 Pie Filling:  

  • 5 cups of tart cherries (fresh and pitted or frozen, unsweetened cherries)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small cubes and dotted over top. 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Make the pie crust: Measure flour and salt into a medium bowl. Cut in the butter or shortening with a fork or pastry cutter, until thoroughly mixed in and pea-sized pieces throughout the dough. Sprinkle in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough almost cleans the side of the bowl. More water can be added if needed. 
  3. Gather the dough into two balls and shape into two flattened rounds on a lightly floured surface. With a flour-covered rolling pin, roll dough one disk to about 2 inches larger than the pie pan. Roll up the dough on the rolling pin, then transfer it over the pie pan and unroll it over the pie pan and ease into pan. Press it down in the pan. It's good to have some dough hanging over the side.  Reserve the second round in the refrigerator until you fill the pie with the cherry filling, in the next step.  
  4. Make the filling: In a bowl, toss together the cherries, sugar and flour until the cherries are coated. Pour the filling into the pie pan. Dot the butter over the top of the cherry filling. 
  5. Roll out the second disk of dough and unfold it over the cherry pie filling, so it hangs over the edges. Crimp the edges to a desired design, or use a fork and press down around the edge of the pie.  Use a knife and cut an X or design into the top crust of the pie, so the air escapes during baking.  
  6. Bake the pie for about 40-60 minutes, until the crust looks like brown and the cherry syrup starts bubbling. When you take the pie out of the oven, sprinkle a little white sugar over the top of the entire pie.  Let the pie cool, to allow the syrup to thicken before you cut into it.  
  7. Freeze: You can also freeze the pie. Just wrap the baked pie in plastic wrap and then cover with aluminium foil and freeze up to one month.  Let it come to room temperature, or warm in oven before serving. 
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My favorite thing about this pie recipe and that my mom does not have a "set recipe." She adjusts it each time she bakes. If the cherries don't fill the pie pan, she adds more with a bit more sugar. If the filling appears too watery, she adds more flour. 

Be lenient and don't expect to be perfect! It should be relaxing, not stressful.  

And in the end, it'll be perfect no matter what! 

 

Thyme Roasted Walnuts

Brrrr! I think just about everyone can agree that winter is officially here...  

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It hit me when I laced up my shoes to go on a  long morning run. As I started out, the bitter cold went right through my gloves, hat and layers... and just stuck there. I found myself wondering, one - why the heck do I run again?! And then two - looking at the morning sun streaming through the trees, reflecting off the park's snow, and as I waved to a group of runners, I realized the feeling I get when I run is why I keep lacing up my shoes. Feeling of being stronger, lighter and a bit more free. Even in the cold. 

And then, walking back into the warmth of my home, I find myself not wanting to leave. Because when it's so cold and snowy out, it's my perfect excuse to spend some much-needed quality time in my own kitchen. Simmering, roasting and baking anything in the oven. 

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A jar of dried thyme & a bag of raw walnuts are all you need for this toasty, warm snack. 

There is something I love the minute you roast walnuts. The nuts develop an addictive toasted flavor.

I make these to top salads, but they are great all on their own. Store in a mason jar on your counter and give your winter salads an upgrade! 

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 Thyme Roasted Walnuts

  • 2 cups raw walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Toss the nuts with the oil, thyme and salt. Spread out onto a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes.  
  3. Let cool on the sheet pan and then store in a mason jar at room temperature.

 

 

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Stay warm & spend some time in your kitchen! :)

Lavender Roasted Almonds

A little over a year ago, I began reading a lot about the benefits of soaking and then dehydrating nuts.

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When you soak nuts in water, it breaks down enzyme inhibitors that make nuts hard for you to digest - making it easier.

After soaking, you dehydrate the nuts. Which, if you don't have a dehydrator, means placing them in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 hours. But, you can cut down the process by roasting the nuts about 30 minutes at 300 degrees and then increasing the oven to 400 degrees and roasting for 10 more minutes. This is the method I prefer... because I've never quite mastered the patience thing.  

The added bonus of soaking and roasting -  an extra-crunchy nut. For real. I love it!

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My favorite nuts to soak & roast are almonds, as in the recipe below. 

I use lavender because I have a jar of dried lavender in my kitchen. It's the result of last summer's prosperous lavender plant. Plus, it makes your daily almond snack not-so-ordinary.  

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If you don't have lavender, you can also use rosemary! I love that as well.  

Lavender Roasted Almonds

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil  
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender, ground

Directions: 

  1. Soak the almonds in a container filled with water and a dash of sea salt. Make sure there is about an inch of water covering the almonds. Soak for 24 hours at room temperature. 
  2. Drain the almonds and place in a bowl. Toss with the salt and olive oil.
  3. Roast in a 300 degree oven on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss almonds halfway through roasting.
  4. While the nuts are roasting, muddle the dried lavender so it's coarsely ground.
  5. After the nuts have been roasting about 30 minutes, take the nuts out of the oven and sprinkle the lavender over the nuts and toss lightly.  
  6. Increase the oven to 400 degrees and place the almonds back in the oven and roast for 10 more minutes. 
  7. Take out, let cool and serve. Or, store in a mason jar on your counter. 

 

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Happy Saturday!! 

apple pastry squares

A family recipe. 

It's usually something that your grandparent or parent has made over the years. Maybe they got it from their friend at a party, or read it in a cookbook they've had since they were married.

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My mom has a wooden recipe box in a cabinet in her kitchen. Inside, it's filled with weathered note cards, handwritten with recipes from friends and family. My grandmother's peanut butter cookies or a friend's oreo dirt cake. The edges are ripped and stained. And "XXX" written in the corner means it's a winner of a recipe. These, to me, are family recipes. 

And from that little box come these pastry squares. 

These are sweet and the icing makes them irresistible. My mom made these for our Christmas dinner the other night. In a crowded downstairs filled with screaming kids, lots of laughter and family - these pastry squares were served on a white platter on the dessert table.  And one by one, they disappeared. 

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Add it to your recipe box, share it with a friend, make it for your next family dinner and enjoy this sweet treat. 

Apple Pastry Squares

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4-6 tart apples, peeled and sliced (such as granny smith)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions: 

  1. Make the pastry: In a bowl, mix 2 cups of flour (reserve 2 tablespoons) and shortening and salt together - using a fork, cut the shortening into the flour until it is a crumbly mixture. To the flour mixture, add the yolks, lemon juice and water. Pack the mixture up into two balls. Roll one ball out on a floured surface into a rectangle that you will lay into a 13x9 inch pan. 
  2. Make the filling: In a bowl, mix the sliced apples, sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix together and spread out on top of the pastry that's in the pan. Roll out the second half of the pastry dough and lay on top of apple mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.     
  3. Make the Topping: Mix together powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla and milk into a bowl until blended. While the baked apple pastry is still warm, spread the icing on the top of the pastry. 
  4. Cut into squares and serve. You can store these squares in the refrigerator until ready to serve. These are great warm or cold!
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Hope everyone had a happy holiday! I sure don't want it to end... 

And before you part ways and head home, snag your favorite family recipe. Years from now, you'll be happy you did!  

Candied Cashews

Need a last minute gift idea?  

Just grab some cashews and roast these addicting cinnamon-sugar coated nuts. 

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On a daily basis, I've cut sugar entirely from my diet for several health reasons. But, around the Christmas season, these candied cashews always become an exception and a treat.  I give them as gifts, mail a bag to friends, bring some home to my family and I currently have a jar of them sitting on my counter. 

Your guests will love them, your significant other will love them, your co-workers will love them... and you will too!

Candied Cashews

  • 3 cups raw, unsalted whole cashews (a little over 1 pound)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt  (omit if cashews are already salted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Directions: 

  1. In a bowl, beat the egg whites and the vanilla together with a whisk, until frothy. About 30-60 seconds. Toss in the cashews to coat. 
  2. In a large, gallon-sized Ziploc bag, add the sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Shake it all together to combine. 
  3. Pour the covered nuts into the bag and seal.  Toss/shake the mixture in the bag to coat all the nuts.  It will be moist and the sugar will look dissolved. 
  4. Once completely coated, spread out the sugared nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  5. Bake at 275 degrees for about an hour. Toss the cashews every 15 minutes. 
  6. Take out and let cool on the sheet pan. Then, break up and store in an air-tight container or mason jar. 

 

 

 

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Added bonus - your kitchen will smell amazing. :)

Chewy Chocolate-Molasses Cookies {grain-free}

This month, I have one thing on my baking mind...

And that would be to use the large jar of molasses currently sitting in my cabinet.  

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After making gingerbread truffles last weekend, inspiration into all things gingerbread-flavored flooded my thoughts.  

So this weekend, I'm baking a flourless chewy cookie filled with molasses, spices and the flavors of gingerbread.

 

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My recipe was inspired by a classic chocolate gingerbread cookie I've made over the years (that recipe is coming soon!).

Here, I added a touch of cocoa powder and mixed in chopped, dark chocolate. And I use almond flour, so it's naturally grain-free! 

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Chewy, a bit chocolatey and with the flavor of the holidays.  Enjoy! 

Chewy Chocolate-Molasses Cookies {grain-free}

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup good-quality dark chocolate, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of a cinnamon-sugar mixture, for topping (coarse raw sugar also works nicely)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a large glass bowl, whisk the butter, molasses and brown sugar together until creamy and well combined with no lumps. Add in the egg and whisk to combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour with the baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, salt and cocoa. 
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, stirring to incorporate everything together.  Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. 
  5. Add in the chopped dark chocolate, if using. 
  6. Scoop tablespoon-sized dough balls and roll in your hand.  Using the palm of your hand or back of a spoon, press down the dough balls to flatten. It's easier if you wet the spoon or your palm so the dough won't stick. Then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the tops of the flattened cookies. 
  7. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. Take out and let cool for about 10 minutes on the sheet pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

 

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I'm stacking these up, wrapping in a plastic bag with baker's twine, and giving them to my family tonight when I meet them for Budweiser's holiday lights and dinner.

The perfect holiday gift for everyone! 

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Dark Chocolate Dipped Clementines

A fresh orange tastes best during the winter months, when the fruit is in season. It's right about now when oranges start to add a fresh, sweet zing to the darker, colder days... 

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And you can't go wrong with little clementines. So sweet. So easy to peel. So easy not to get juice all over you when you eat them.

So naturally, let's dip this fruit in dark chocolate, sprinkle it with roasted nuts and make ourselves a little winter treat. 

Dark Chocolate Dipped Clementines

  • 2-3 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (about 1/4 cup if using dark chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 3-4 clementines, peeled and segmented
  • 2 tablespoons roasted almonds (or pistachios), chopped  

Directions: 

  1.  In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate with the coconut oil for 30 seconds. Stir and then heat in microwave for about 15 more seconds. Stir until smooth. 
  2. Take the peeled and separated clementines and dip one-half of each segment into the melted dark chocolate. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the chocolate-dipped half with chopped roasted almonds. Continue until all the segments are dipped and sprinkled with nuts.
  3. Chill in the refrigerator until set.  Keep stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

 

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Make these for yourself or easily serve them at your next holiday party! 

Lemon-Poppy Seed Cakes

Well, it's December whether we can believe it or not! Which means holiday desserts are in full swing. 

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Do you remember lemon-poppy seed muffins? Growing up, when my mom would bake little poppy seed muffins, it was my absolute favorite. She served them at the dinner table in a wicker basket lined with a dish towel - every time. So moist, sweet & lemony...

Well, when I was home the other week, I rediscovered lemon-poppy seed when mom made these cute little bundt cakes for a holiday dessert party. And, I tell you what... it's time we all bring back the poppy seed cake/muffin/bread because, well, it's just the best. 

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Fresh lemon juice & zest add a zing to these moist little cakes. These are best made in mini bundt pans, but if you don't have that size pan or can't find it, regular muffin tins will do just fine! 

Mini Lemon-Poppy Seed Cakes

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest (1 lemon) 
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  2. In a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until well combined. Gradually add the sugar until fluffy and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the milk, poppy seeds, almond extract and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest (set aside the remaining 1/2 tsp. lemon zest to reserve for the icing). The mixture may be lumpy, it's normal! 
  3. In a separate, large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, beating until well blended. 
  4. Spoon the batter into small mini-bunt pans (or muffin tins) that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. Fill about 3/4 the way up. It will fill about 18 mini bundt cakes. 
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. Remove from pans to wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes. 
  6. While the cakes/muffins are cooling, whisk the lemon juice with the powdered sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest until it forms a thin glaze. 
  7. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing over the cakes and let stand for about 5 minutes, until glaze sets
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My mom originally found this recipe deep in one of those hard-back, retro Christmas baking books.

This month, rediscover old favorites... and give them your own modern twist! 

Homemade Pumpkin Pie & Crust 3 Ways

If there's one dish that's as non-negotiable at Thanksgiving as the turkey - it's the pumpkin pie.  

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No matter how healthy; how non-traditional; how trendy or even how store-bought you take your holiday - pie is usually involved. 

And you know what?  Contrary to many non-baker's beliefs, pie is actually one of the fastest and easiest desserts to make!  The crust is simply flour, butter and salt, with very little handling.

So, today I'm sharing a few easy, go-to pie crusts that work perfectly for 9-inch pumpkin pie.  

And that filling?  We are making it totally from scratch - by roasting a small sugar pumpkin...  

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It's funny, we all roast winter squashes like there's no tomorrow, but when the thought of roasting a pumpkin comes to mind - people run. When really, it is exactly the same as roasting any other winter squash!  And it makes the pumpkin pie feel sooooo much more special and truly homemade. (And don't worry, a can of pure pumpkin purée works just as well, if that's how you roll.)  

Plus, when it's used in this healthier version of pumpkin pie, you can enjoy guilt-free!

You can also roast the pumpkin in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you make the pie.

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My favorite crust is the graham cracker crust, as shown here in the pictures.  But choose from any of the three crusts below - they will each work beautifully in the 9-inch pumpkin pie recipe!  

And my mom's simple butter crust may be used for any fruit pie, so keep this crust recipe on hand! 

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

(makes one, 9-inch pie)

  • 1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin from a 2 lb sugar pumpkin (or 1 can pure pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk (you may swap the milk for canned coconut milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions: 

  1. Roast the pumpkin:  Slice the top and bottom off a 2 lb sugar pumpkin. Then, cut in half.  Scoop out the seeds (but don't throw them away - roast them!).  
  2. Lightly coat the inside of the pumpkin halves with oil and place face down on the baking sheet. Roast for about 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees. The skin should be shriveled slightly and the inside flesh should be soft. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then scoop out the cooked pumpkin and place in a bowl. Discard the skin. Store roasted pumpkin in refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. In a large food processor, place 1 1/2 cups of the cooled pumpkin and process until it's a puree. Add the remaining ingredients and process until combined and smooth. 
  4. Pour in a 9-inch pie crust (choose from recipes below). 
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, or until the center is completely set and does not look wet. Take out and let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy. The pie will keep for about 3 days, loosely covered.  

FOR THE CRUST:

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 12 whole graham crackers
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions: 

  1. In a food processor, process the graham crackers until fine crumbs. Add the cinnamon and process. Then add the melted butter, sugar and salt and process until finely ground together. 
  2. Press the crust into a 9-inch pie pan that has been sprayed with a nonstick spray. Make sure to press it up on the sides. 
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 7-8 minutes. Take out and let slightly cool. 
  4. Pour in the pumpkin pie filling (recipe above) and bake for 35 minutes. 

My Go-To Butter Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water

Directions: 

  1. Measure the flour and salt into a bowl, cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or a fork until crumbly. You can also do this in the food processor and process until crumbly.  It should resemble small peas. Sprinkle in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until all of the flour is moistened and the dough almost cleans the side of the bowl. More water can be added as needed, but do not make it too moist. 
  2. Gather the dough into a ball and shape into a flattened round.  You may refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes to firm it back up.
  3. When ready to roll, lightly flour a flat surface and with a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about two inches larger than the inverted pie plate. To transfer to pie pan, roll the dough lightly up with the rolling pin and then invert it into the pie shell.  Press a fork into the edges to create an instant design, or crimp the edges with your fingers. Then, prick the bottom of the pie with a fork and bake at 375 for about 7-8 minutes.  Take out and cool slightly.  
  4. Pour the pumpkin pie filling into the semi-baked pie crust and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the middle is completely set and does not look wet.

Grain-Free Pecan Crust

  • 1 1/4 cup pecans, slightly toasted
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions: 

  1. Toast the pecans on a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes - until fragrant. Set aside to cool. Add the coconut to the skillet and toast for a few minutes until toasted, not burned. 
  2. In a food processor, add the pecans and coconut with the sugar, cinnamon and salt and process until it is a crumbly mixture and sticks together slightly.  
  3. Press into the 9-inch pie pan and freeze until solid. 
  4. Once solid, take out of freezer and pour in the pumpkin pie filling, above. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes, or until center is set.
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Pie steps may seem overwhelming until you read them over and realize how simple it really is.

And if you go the extra step this Thanksgiving and make something from scratch; you will create new memories or it will remind you of old ones.  And remember, food is about so much more than just eating, especially when you gather around the table with the ones you love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lime & chili roasted nuts

The lime and chili combination was on my mind a few weeks ago. 

Lime & chili cashews, to be exact. 

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I find myself snacking on roasted nuts all the time to tide my hunger pains. I also chop them up and throw in my lunch salad daily. 

But, when I need to jazz up my handful, I will add oil and spices before I roast the nuts.  

Here, I just toss raw nuts in a bowl with the chili powder, olive oil and fresh squeezed lime juice and roast it all in the oven for 15 minutes. 

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And I don’t always use only cashews for this one.  I will also mix in raw walnuts. The cashew & walnut combo is my absolute favorite.  

This week, I also added raw almonds to the mix…another winner.

So I encourage you to use your favorite nut for this! 

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Lime & Chili Roasted Nuts
1 cup raw whole cashews
1 cup raw walnut halves
½ - 1 cup raw almonds 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 tablespoon chili powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sea salt 
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice (1 large lime) 
Directions: 
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl add the nuts and olive oil and toss to combine.  Add in the chili powder, cayenne pepper and sea salt. 
- Toss in the fresh lime juice and pour the mix on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
- Roast for about 15-18 minutes, tossing halfway through. Make sure to keep an eye on the nuts around 15 minutes, and take them out before the nuts start to darken too much and burn. Take out and let cool. Store in a large mason jar at room temperature. 
(Recipe adapted from againstthegrain.com)
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Go ahead.  Spice things up this week! 

dark chocolate bark

Here is one of life’s easiest sweet treats –  chocolate bark. 

If you go get yourself the very best block of dark chocolate, you are already halfway there. 

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Top the melted chocolate with any combination of dried fruit or nuts you’d like. Here, I use dried golden figs and toasted pecans.

Dark Chocolate Bark 
-  1 lb block very good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
-  1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
-  1 cup dried figs, sliced.
Directions: 

- With a sharp knife, chop the chocolate. Then, place the chocolate in a microwave-save bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds. When the chocolate is almost all melted, take out and stir until it is completely smooth. (You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler or stainless steel saucepan)

- Pour the melted chocolate on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and with a spatula, spread out the chocolate on the sheet to desired thickness. Place the pecan pieces and sliced figs (or dried cherries or blueberries) over the chocolate.  

- Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator and chill until it is hard. Then, with a sharp knife, cut into squares or break up bark into pieces with your hands. Store in an airtight container. 

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A bit of dark chocolate in your diet is a good thing. :)