Trail Mix Parfaits

Trail Mix Parfaits

I have to admit, I’ve not been doing a lot of recipe creating lately. With the book editing and recipe testing process, I think I’ve caught a case of creativity burnout. When this happens, I know it’s time to break out my cookbooks and open up my pinterest boards and go back to where my passion for cooking began: following recipes. Following a good recipe is like doing a puzzle. Corners go here,  edges go there, this piece goes here, this piece goes there … and before you know it you’ve methodically created something new and complete … and lovely … and hopefully delicious, in the case of recipes.

When I haven’t been following other people’s recipes lately, I’ve been throwing together salads and smoothies from the greens in my garden.  This is my first year to have a garden. I’ve already killed all the tomatoes and peppers and most of the herbs, but my greens are growing like weeds. I’ve not made anything terribly innovate with them yet, but oh my goodness, the simple pleasure of walking out my back door, picking some fresh spinach or swiss chard and enjoying a meal with it minutes later. I have been missing out!

I plan on doing a garden post and a recipe round up post soon with some of the hits during my recipe creating hiatus and my adventures as a newbie gardener.

Though my creativity neurons took a leave of absence, I think they may be slowly returning. I’ve made a few very simple recipes the last few days that have knocked my socks off. Like canteloupe dressed with honey, lime, and cayenne pepper or Tajin seasoning. So simple, yet so delicious. Or like yesterdays breakfast, a Trail Mix Parfait: layered ingredients you’d typically find in trail mix, like nuts and seeds and dried fruit and chocolate, slightly warmed and topped with diced bananas. Can I just say, yum!! I just had it again and thought, maybe I finally have a recipe worth blogging after my long dry spell. It’s kind of a recipe that’s almost not a recipe, but it’s so good, it’s worth putting out there anyway. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Other noteworthy updates:

  • I’m guest pinning this week at The Christian Mama’s Guide facebook page on Cooking with Kids. Come join us there for fun ideas to get your kids excited about food. Just in time for summer when the kids will be home “helping” you in the kitchen, whether you like it or not!
  • My lovely co-blogger and mother had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I totally missed a chance to do a birthday post. Mom, I love you! Happy Birthday. I cannot believe we get to share so much of our life together, from work to play, even when we are far away.
  • Jackson and I are heading to Colorado this week to spend a few days at my mom’s. We’re taking publicity pictures for the book, having a meeting with our editor about the next book, and hopefully spending some quality time cooking together in the kitchen … with Jackson and my nephew George sitting on the counter helping us. 🙂

And now for that recipe I promised….

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Trail Mix Parfaits

Serves 1

1/2 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, mixed nuts–I like unsalted walnuts or pecans best)
2 tablespoons dried fruit (like raisins, dried cranberries, blueberries, or bananas)
1 tablespoon seeds (like hemp, sunflower, chias, or sesame)
2 tablespoons chocolate chips (I like the dairy-free, soy-free ones by Enjoy Life)
2 tablespoons diced bananas or yogurt (like So Delicious Coconut Yogurt)

Directions

In a glass bowl or glass, layer nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and chocolate chips. Warm in microwave for 30 seconds or until chocolate just starts to melt. Don’t let chocolate burn. Top with bananas and/or yogurt. Enjoy.

If you gently stir it as you eat, the chocolate will coat the rest of the trail mix. Oooey, gooey gooodness.

If you gently stir it as you eat, the chocolate will coat the rest of the trail mix. Oooey, gooey gooodness.

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The Title: Trail Mix Parfaits
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Cinnamon Crisps (Easy to Make with Kids)

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(Becky, the Mama. It is the small things you do with small people that you and they will look back on and cherish. I hope and pray you get a little bonding time in the kitchen with young ones this week. Here’s a recipe that will make it easy during a time when many feel perpetually overwhelmed. Love and Merry Christmas to all our Blog Readers and thank you so much for sharing our love of cooking and passing it along to others.)

There is, of course, the Martha Stewart way to make Christmas cookies with your kids when they are home from school this coming week for Christmas break. It looks homey and fun, easy and bonding. Especially when using child actors on a TV set.

What it is, in reality, is a long process involving antsy children, along with lots of sugar, clouds of flour, rolling pins and sticky dough (that will take a jack hammer to remove after it is dry), food coloring stains, and sometimes tears of frustration (from either children or parent). The experience almost always ends with the kids giving up the thrill of “making Christmas cookie memories together,” after half-heartedly decorating one, maybe two, cookies. Then they start begging to go play outside, watch cartoons or play a video game. So Mom ends up finishing up the decorating, cleaning up the mess, and downing about six cookies she doesn’t really need or want that taste like thick sweet cardboard with green and red sugar paste on top.

I’m here to give you Becky Johnson’s (alias “Nonny”) Easier Way Out. (Merry Christmas!) It takes about five to ten minutes to make these “Christmas Cinnamon Crisps” with your children, start to finish. If you use whole wheat tortillas and dust them with organic coconut or date sugar, you can even claim them to be almost downright healthy. A cold glass of diary or almond milk will help balance the sugar with a bit of protein and keep your children off the ceiling from a pure sugar high. Also, these crisps are so light and crunchy, they will not end up feeling like a sugar dough ball in their stomachs. (Or yours.)

We made these for Christmas, but you can use any holiday or seasonal cookie cutters to make this an easy-to-make treat year round.

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Cinnamon Crisps

Ingredients:

2 large flour tortillas, whole wheat or white (I prefer to use the raw tortillas, such as Tortilla Land or Guerrero Brands because they puff up like little sopapillas,  but pre-cooked ones will also work)
1 to 2 T. coconut oil or other healthy oil
Cinnamon & Sugar Mix (1/4 c. sugar to 1 T. cinnamon)

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Directions:

Using good sharp edged cookies cutters, let the kids cut out cookies from the tortilla.

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In the meantime, melt 1 T. coconut oil in a medium skillet on medium high heat. Drop tortilla “cookies” into hot oil (obviously an adult will need to do this part).

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Then gently roll them in a bowl of the cinnamon and sugar, coating both sides.

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Let them cool a bit, but best eaten while warm and fresh! (You made need to add more coconut oil as you cook the crisps.) Cut up left over “scraps” of tortillas into “crazy shape” pieces to cook, coat and eat last!

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Variations:

There are so many ways you can jazz up this basic idea. You can coat them with coconut or date sugar, and use whole wheat tortillas (or even flat bread). You can make a quick vanilla or chocolate glaze and dip one side in (like a donut) and then dip again in crushed nuts or seeds or sprinkles or coconut, like thin tiny donuts. You can skip the cinnamon and sugar and dip in a honey-butter or peanut-butter and honey mixture. Have fun with this!

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Chocolate Avocado Pudding (It tastes just like “real” pudding!)

Avocados for dessert? Yep. The proof is in the pudding.

I think much of my passion for good tasting healthy food comes from my Grannie. For most of my life, she’s been a real health nut. She and I can talk food and health all afternoon. We get excited sharing our latest nutritious food finds. When I was pregnant, she sent me a bar of dark chocolate, a baggie of walnuts, and a box of healthy cookies with instructions to eat a piece of chocolate, a walnut, and a cookie all in one bite for a not-too-bad for you treat that hits the spot. She knows my kind of perfect bite like no one else.

Rumor has it that she wasn’t always this way, though. There are tales from my mom and aunt of rich, sugar-filled, high calorie desserts after almost every meal. I suppose I could see this in Grannie.  She still gets giddy over a delicious dessert. She sent me this recipe (below) and I had to wonder if my Grannie and I are the only two women in our family who can get  this excited about pudding made from avocados, cocoa, and dates? She sold me on the recipe with this adorable email. This is why I love her so!

Hey Babe,

I’ve found a recipe for pudding that calls for no dairy, no milk, and no eggs! And it tastes really good! So, in case you’re hungry for pudding here’s the recipe….

A sprinkle of toasted almonds is nice, and half a maraschino cherry on the top makes it elegant — and how much damage can 1/2 a teeny, sugary cherry do?

I tried a small recipe first. It was yummy, so like Goldilocks visiting the Three Bear’s house, I tried a MUCH BIGGER bowl.

Much love,
Grannie

Isn’t she adorable? And don’t you want a bowl of chocolatey avocados now, too?

Sprinkled with shredded coconut and toasted almonds, it tasted like Almond Joys.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 avocados
1 c.  dates, soaked in water for an hour, then pitted and chopped
2 t. vanilla
3 T. cocoa (up to 5 T. if you like it more chocolatey)
1/2 c. – 1 c. non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
2 t. agave (optional)

Topping options: almonds & shredded coconut for Almond Joy Pudding. Crumbled Oreo cookies & gummy worms for kids Worms in Dirt dessert. Coconut whipped cream and maraschino cherries. Shortbread cookies and raspberries.

Directions

Soak dates for one hour.

In a small food processor bowl (or high power blender), combine avocados, pitted and chopped dates, vanilla and about 1/2 a cup of milk. Blend, adding more milk and scraping down the sides as needed. I did have to stop and scrape several times, but with some patience it eventually got very smooth. Add cocoa a tablespoon at a time until it’s as chocolatey as you like. Taste for sweetness and add agave (or your preferred sweetener) if desired.

Top with your choice of toppings. Serve immediately.

Note: I haven’t tried refrigerating this to store it since there have been no leftovers when I’ve made this yet! My mom has a great method for storing guacamole by putting leftovers in a plastic Ziplock style sandwich bag and pushing as much air out as possible. Since the recipe uses avocados, I think this might be the best way to store it.  Let me know if you make it and have enough leftover to store it!

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The Title: Chocolate Avocado Pudding
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