Monday, July 27, 2015

No-Bake Cookies with Crio Bru

Have you tried Crio Bru? If you like chocolate--especially if you like rich, dark chocolate--you will LOVE Crio. I am a huge fan. I drink it several mornings a week.  Crio is a drink made from 100% roasted and ground cocoa beans, and it is brewed like coffee. I brew mine in a french press. My favorite way to drink it is iced with a pack of Truvia sweetener and a shot of creamer.  So delicious!

A beautiful feature of Crio grounds is that they can be re-used in baking.  And after making a few recipes with my used grounds, I never throw them away. They are too deliciously valuable!

I buy my Cri Bru on Amazon, and it is also available in many grocery and health-food stores. I am NOT being compensated for this recipe post--I'm just sharing a product I truly love with my many chocolate-loving readers!

After some questions on social media from readers, I am posting a link to the french press I use. I'm sure there are others that work well out there, but I can personally attest to the ease of use (and ease of cleaning!), as well as the effective brewing ability of this press: 

Now on to how to use the grounds to make your chocolate no-bake cookies over-the-top with rich yumminess!

Here are the used grounds. They should be damp, but not at all juicy. This recipe uses 1 cup of previously-brewed Crio grounds. If you brew daily, you'll have a cup in less than a week.  The grounds expand when they are brewed, so they accumulate pretty fast. I just scoop them into a bowl after each brew and keep them covered in the refrigerator. 

Place your cup of grounds into a food processor/blender. 

Pulse for about 1 minute total, scraping the sides a couple of times. The grounds will still be coarse,  but less rough than they started out.

Now make the chocolate candy base for your no-bake cookies by melting 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/3 cup of cocoa powder.  Once melted, stir in the processed Crio grounds.  Bring to a boil and boil hard while stirring for 2 full minutes. This breaks down the sugar so the cookies aren't gritty. Don't boil more than 4 minutes, though, as the sugar will start becoming too hard. 

Remove from heat, and stir in 1 cup peanut (or other nut) butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Stir in 2.5 cups of quick oats.  Similar recipes for no-bake cookies call for 3 cups of oats, but the Crio grounds add fiber and bulk, so these only call for 2.5 cups. 

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto wax paper. Refrigerate or freeze to set. 

I kept these in my freezer for a few days and LOVED grabbing one when I needed a little chocolate treat. My kids discovered them and they were gone shortly after. The chocolate flavor in these are SO incredible! And they have less sugar and more health benefits than most cookies, so you can feel good eating them and sharing them with your family!

Here's the recipe: 

No-Bake Cookies with Crio Bru
Makes 30 cookies

1 cup previously brewed Crio Bru grounds
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup peanut (or other nut) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups quick oats

1. Place previously brewed Crio grounds in a food processor and pulse 1 minute, scraping sides 2 times.  Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter with sugar and cocoa powder, stirring until smooth. Add Crio grounds and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil 2 full minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Stir in quick oats. Immediately drop by heaping tablespoon onto wax paper-lined baking sheets. Place in freezer of fridge to set. 

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Blueberry Brunch Cake

Fresh blueberries, sweet cream butter, and rich Greek yogurt make this a coffee cake that works for breakfast, brunch, or as a midnight treat.  Every part of this cake is delicious--the crust, the baked batter, the berries, and the ribbons of brown sugar and cinnamon!  

If you need a fail-safe dessert, a celebratory treat to share, or something to make for a friend who deserves more sweetness in his/her life, this is it!  My husband and kids are in love with it, and I ate mine slowly to savor each bite. 

Blueberry Brunch Cake
Makes 2 large loaves

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour (whole wheat works)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (full-fat preferred)
1 3/4 cups fresh blueberries (frozen work)
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 large loaf pans with cooking spray.
2. In a medium/large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. 
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and soda, Alternate adding flour mixture and Greek yogurt to creamed mixture.  Fold in blueberries. 
4. In a small bowl, stir brown sugar and cinnamon well. 
5. Spread 1/2 blueberry batter in prepared pans. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture over the wet batter. Top with remaining blueberry batter, and finish with a sprinkling of the remaining brown sugar mix. 
6. Place in center of hot oven and bake 38-42 minutes. Let cool in pans. Use a knife to loosen edges before removing.  Serve warm or cooled. 

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Healthy 3-Ingredient Spinach Artichoke Side Dish

Creamy, rich flavor in a side dish you can feel good about feeding your family! I love it when healthy tastes good! 

What makes this recipe over-the-top on the must-make-again scale is that it has just THREE ingredients. You can whip it up in about 10 minutes! Seriously!

Here's the starring line-up: Neufchatel cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, and frozen chopped spinach! That is it!

Healthy, 3-Ingredient Spinach Artichoke Side Dish
Serves 6-8

16 ounce package frozen chopped spinach
1 cup of marinated artichoke hearts, drained slightly
4 ounces Neufchatel cheese (cream cheese works), cut into 1/2-ounce chunks

1. Place artichoke hearts in a blender or food processor, and pulse until chopped small--almost a puree.
2. Cook spinach in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until defrosted. Add chopped artichoke hearts to spinach and increase heat to medium-high, stirring often. 
3. Once boiling, add Neufchatel cheese, reduce heat to low, and cover.
4. Cook 2-4 more minutes, stirring cheese in as it melts.  Serve warm.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

DIY Sleep Mask College Student Send-off Gift

When I left for college a few years back, someone gave me a sleeping mask and earplugs. I remember my dad saying, "Oooh good! That will come in handy!"  I didn't grasp what he meant until I had lived in my new dorm for about a week. I soon learned a fact of college life: Night time doesn't mean sleeping time.  But I wanted to sleep! I had early classes or an early job to get to every day, and I often woke up even earlier to work-out. I was SO GRATEFUL for the sleeping mask and earplugs I was given!

So when I saw this tutorial for a reversible sleep mask from Behind the Seams Sewing, I thought it would be a perfect gift for some gals I know who are heading out into the world of dormitories, lectures, and libraries. 

The tutorial includes a link to this simple pattern from Instructables that you can print out on one regular sheet of paper at home. I used some extra fabric I had for the outside, and white felt for the inside.  For the band, I used 1/4 inch elastic. 

With all gifts, but especially simple ones, I believe presentation is of utmost importance, so I am sharing a cute printable I made using the Rhonna Designs app to give with the sleep masks. 

Go HERE to download this free printable.  I sized mine in Publisher to 4"x 4" so it would fit just right on the top of the bags I used.

I found some earplugs at my local hardware store for 49 cents/ pair, because what good is a dark room if it is still noisy??

And finally, I used some long, clear party bags (found HERE on Amazon) to package up each sleep mask and earplug set with the printable poem stapled to the top of the bag. 

I wrote a personal message to each recipient on the back of the card. It is great to be able to give something useful, and if it can be homemade, you can truly make it a gift from your heart! 

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