I openly admit that I am not a cook, nor a baker; I quickly become overwhelmed by the simplest of recipes. Over the years, as a singleton, a newlywed and a new mother, I attempted (and failed) to make nice with the kitchen. No matter how hard I tried, my time in the kitchen often resulted with me a blubbering mess.
Thankfully, the division of labor in my partnership was in my favor, with a husband who loves (LOVES!) to cook and bake. And he’s a genius at it, as I’m equally genius at cleaning up after his amazing meals, doing laundry, washing the floors…

But now it’s a new year, with new goals, one of which is to contribute in the kitchen. As a celiac, with two celiac daughters, it’s equally important that we eat nutrient dense foods. This will be my main motivation to gain confidence in the kitchen.

I recently found inspiration in the recipes of the fabulously talented Ariane Resnick. Initially known for her brand of snack foods, Rawk-n-Roll Cuisine, Resnick expanded her love of cooking local, whole and organic food to the role of personal chef, and has cooked for an impressive roster of clients such as Gwyneth Paltrow and media mogul Clive Ng. She also recently appeared on the Food Network’s “Chopped.” But it’s her pure love of making (and eating) healthy food fun that makes her method easily accessible.

Resnick came to cooking rather organically (no pun intended) and “credits her mother, who was a holistic– and prolific– home cook who ran a co-op out of their family home throughout Ariane’s childhood.” I felt an immediate affiliation with Ariane when I read that she grew up in a house “without commercial food, where wheat berries were ground weekly into flour for bread that was seemingly always fresh out of the oven.” I was the kid at the lunch table with whom nobody ever wanted to trade food. Never. My mom (I now thank her) packed me turkey and sprout sandwiches on pita, carrot sticks and an apple. I remember begging my classmate, Julie, to let me taste a couple of potato chips – a totally foreign food to me. Julie, thankfully, obliged on several occasions, because I think she felt sorry for me.

Looking back I’m grateful that my parents raised me on wholesome food. I was allowed “treats” on special occasions, the occasional fast food hamburger, and it instilled me a healthy perspective and pure enjoyment of food. As an adult, I’ve found a healthy balance between indulging my daily dose of dark chocolate with consuming copious amounts of kale and green tea.

Like so many parents, I’m often exhausted and have little to no energy by 3 pm. It’s all too easy to grab convenience-type items – especially for busy parents on the go. But according to Ariane, it can be both fun and feasible to get back to (healthy) basics in the kitchen. “The easiest way to transition your diet to a healthier one is one small item at a time. Exchange one snack of packaged food for something homemade, eat one less meal at a restaurant or choose a better restaurant if eating out; make vegetables the centerpiece of one meal, switch white rice to brown rice or quinoa for one meal, etc. Rather than trying to overhaul everything, then feeling like you’ve failed when you can’t stick with all the changes set yourself up for success by knowing you have all the time in the world to migrate to a better way of life. One little change at a time is success!”

When packing lunches and making snacks for little ones there’s the double whammy of presenting something that is both appealing and healthy. Ariane appreciates that most parents (and caregivers) don’t have endless hours to prepare healthy food, but she offers up several simple and sure-to-please recipes on her website, ArianeCooks.

Ariane advocates eating local, organic and non-processed when possible, however, this can be a challenge for families on a budget. Her suggestion? “

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with farmers markets, they typically cost less than grocery stores and the food is as fresh as can be. If not, see if there is a CSA in your area that offers produce for delivery; it will also be fresher and tastier than from the grocery store. As far as meat goes, if grass fed feels difficult for your budget choose a less expensive cut that will go further than steaks or chops, such as a roast you can make multiple days worth of stew out of.”

“While organic products are always a better choice than conventional, pre-packaged food can never match the quality or nutritional content of homemade. My suggestion for families to become less dependent upon packaged snacks is to make large batches of simple snacks, such as granola, and pre-portion them at the time for later use.”

Below, Ariane shares three of her favorite, tried & true, easy-to-make recipes:

Baked Apples


“These couldn’t be any easier to make, but taste like so much more than the straight forward fruit they are.”

Ingredients:

4 apples, cored
2 tbls coconut sugar (OR other sugar if there are nut allergies)
Process:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After coring apples, place in baking dish. Sprinkle with coconut sugar, then add enough water to the pan to cover the bottom 1/2 inch up.
Bake until soft, about 40-45 minutes, and serve warm.

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola

“Granola lasts for months in the fridge (or weeks in the cupboard) and is loved by nearly everyone. It can be served hot with milk fresh from the oven, or is a great on-the-go snack.”

Ingredients:

2 cups oats
 and 2 cups dried fruit (one or many)
2 cups nuts (one or many)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Process: 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt honey or maple syrup on the stove with oil or butter, then stir in salt and cinnamon.
Pour all other ingredients into a mixing bowl and add melted mixture. Stir well.
Bake on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes or until oats are golden, stirring every 5-10 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

“These can be a snack, a side dish, or even a main course if topped with chili and cheese. They are far healthier than regular french fries.”

Ingredients:

2 large or 3 small sweet potatoes
3-4 tbls neutral oil such as grapeseed or avocado
Salt to taste
Process:
 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice sweet potatoes into wedges or shoestrings.
Place on cookie sheet drizzled with oil. Salt, and drizzle remaining oil. 
Roast until golden, 30-40 minutes.

Photos via (1, 2, 3)

 

As much as I hate to say goodbye to the California sunshine and watch our long, warm days dissolve into shorter, cooler days, I love the fall season.

Maybe it’s because of the years I spent in New York as a pastry chef, but there’s something very exciting about pulling out my boots and sweaters and bundling up for long walks around town with my family. Let’s be real, I also prefer the warmth of my Mixed Bakery oven while baking in the cooler months too.

One of my favorite go-to recipes this time of year is for my Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. They are easy to make and always a huge hit at Halloween parties. Beware – this is definitely NOT a low-cal dessert, which is most definitely why they taste SOOO GOOD!

Ingredients for Pies

makes about 2 dozen pies

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks)
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon clove
½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Cream butter and sugars in a mixing bowl
Add eggs and vanilla
Add pumpkin puree
Add dry ingredients
Using a small (1 oz) ice cream scooper, drop the batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart
Bake at 350 for about 14 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the tray halfway through
Cool completely before you apply the frosting

If you have the time, I suggest making your own frosting, but your favorite brand packaged frosting is also fine. Just make sure it’s the cream cheese flavor!

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 cups powdered sugar
1 pound cream cheese (2 8oz packages)
1 stick of butter
4 teaspoons vanilla
Mix all ingredients together until creamy, spreadable texture

Live in the Southern California area? Visit Mixed Bakery to place a custom order for your holiday celebrations.

My daughter went on a dessert-making binge recently. I kept praying it would end before I couldn’t fit into my pants. She would bake one or two fabulous desserts everyday. Even our neighbors were begging for mercy, “Please, don’t send over any more sweets!” She made brownies, cookies, cakes, but the rock star of the group, the one which actually came back three times by popular demand, was the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. 

For the past couple of weeks I have been in Austin, Texas (great town) working, but I recently flew back to L.A. for my daughter’s 14th (whaaaa?) birthday. To celebrate she wanted to have breakfast for dinner and for dessert? You guessed it, Pineapple Upside Down Cake! 

Here’s the recipe, so you too can enjoy it with your family. I bet it makes a repeat performance! The Dole Pineapple Juice is key. It adds that extra bit of pineapple flavor and gives a lovely moistness to the cake, and it’s unsweetened! It’s super easy and delicious; the perfect light dessert for those lazy long dog days of summer.

Ingredients
Butter for greasing the pan. – 2 tbsp. sugar
1 20-ounce can of pineapple rings.
2/3 cup of flour
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1⁄2 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
3-5 Tbsp. of DOLE Pineapple Juice (unsweetened).
2-3 Tbsp light brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like your cake!)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F

Melt the butter and pour into a 9-inch cake pan. Run a bit of butter around the side of the pan so it’s well-greased.

Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter.

Squeeze a little lemon juice over the brown sugar in the pan.

Add 1 whole pineapple slice to the center of the pan. Halve the remaining slices vertically. Stagger them in a fan-like fashion going around the cake.

Put the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder, and baking soda into a food processor and run the motor until the batter is smooth. Then pour in the Dole Pineapple Juice.

Pour this mixture over the pineapple rings.**We actually doubled the cake batter recipe, so we had a lot of batter to cover the pineapple rings. Because we like a lot of cake with our pineapple.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Only go down about 1-inch with the toothpick, not all the way to the bottom where you’ll hit gooey pineapple juice.

Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before inverting, slicing, and serving. It’s kind of heart stopping when you turn it upside down – and we always have to bang on the bottom of the cake pan – but it does come out! And it is beautiful!

Enjoy,

Flicka

I love food and like to try different things so I decided to dive into raw food. I wasn’t really sure what to expect and my husband thought I was off my rocker.

I made these cookie dough bites last week and they ended up being a big hit, even with my 4 year-old picky eater, and put a few in her lunch the next day.

My husband didn’t want to admit that he liked them but he did send our daughter into the kitchen, twice, to get a few more of these bites for him. I couldn’t believe this was made from only a few ingredients. I like to eat a few of these dough bites before or after a work out. They also make for a nice little treat at night when my sweet tooth comes out.

What you’ll need:

1 cup raw cashews or unsalted

¾ cup dates

1 tsp. vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

1/4 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)

Directions:

Put the above ingredients,  except for the chocolate chips, in a small food processor blender, and blend until it reaches a dough-like consistency. Place the cookie dough in a medium sized bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir it in. Using damp hands, take about half a tablespoon of dough in your palm and roll (or squish) around until it forms a small ball.

Put the dough bites in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes to set. Enjoy! If there are any bites left, place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

This frozen Reese’s pie is for true chocolate peanut butter lovers. It’s rich, creamy and packs a lot of chocolately-peanut buttery flavor. The texture is like ice cream and frozen cheesecake. A little slice goes a long way.

Ingredients

CRUST
26 Oreo cookies
¼-1/2 cup butter, melted (I used ½ cup)

FILLING
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ cup peanut butter
8 oz Cool Whip
1 cup chopped Reese’s candy

TOPPINGS
Chopped Reese’s
1 cup Milk chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Directions

Place Oreos into a food processor and process until fine crumbs.
Add to a bowl and stir in melted butter until mixture resembles large crumbs. (I used ½ a cup so it had a dough-like texture)
Spray a deep dish pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and press the crumb mixture evenly into the pie dish.
Freeze for 30 minutes to set the crust.
In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until fluffy.
Mix in powdered sugar and peanut butter.
Fold in Cool Whip and chopped Reeses.
Pour mixture into frozen pie crust.
Cover tightly & freeze for 2-3 hours.
Add topping ingredients, let chocolate drizzle set if using, and then cover tightly and freeze overnight or until completely set.
Let sit out for a few minute before slicing.
Serve and enjoy!

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