Monday, April 18, 2016

Candied Flower Shortbread Cookies for #creativecookieexchange

So if you saw my recent Instagram post, you might be guessing who the special person is who inspired these cookies. Well, that person would be my mom!

I don't talk about my mom very often on the blog. I mainly focus on sharing recipes without getting too personal, because after all, you are here for the food. Well, the theme for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange was Mother's Day so I thought now would be the perfect time to say a little bit about the woman who has been a major influence in my life.

My mom was born and raised in the Philippines and had far from a privileged childhood. As a result, she's not a very mushy, sentimental type of person. My mom taught me the value of hard work, to earn what I have and not expect it to be handed over on a silver platter. She taught me to be tough and strong, to put my family before myself and to give without expectation. I am the person I am today because of my mother.

My mom has the biggest green thumb of anyone I know. She can grow anything, anywhere. Here she is with her giant collard greens! The leaves are almost as big as she is!!
This woman could literally make roses grow out of a rock (ok maybe not literally, but you get the picture). I don't know how she does it. Growing up, she had these beautiful rose bushes which she would care for and water every day. The smell of roses in our front yard was intoxicating. I, unfortunately, did not inherit her green thumb, but I can bake, and I baked these cookies for her.

These Candied Flower Shortbread Cookies are the perfect tribute to my mom. Made with pretty, edible flowers, they are beautiful, strong and not too sweet, just like my mom...

These cookies are also far from perfect, just like me...

I know your mom would enjoy them too! Why not make some for Mother's Day?

Candied Flower Shortbread Cookies
Makes approx. 18 cookies (depending on the size)
Adapted from Curtis Stone

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar + more for sprinkling
1 cup + 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
pinch of salt
Egg wash - l large egg white, beaten which 1 tablespoon water
18 edible flowers (small pansies preferred)


Prepare the flowers

Gently wash the flowers in cold water and place face down on a paper towel to dry for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the flowers face up and allow to dry completely.

Make the dough

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using your hand mixer), cream the butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy (approx. 2 minutes).

Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed just until combined.

Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap, form into a disc, wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Bake the cookies

When ready to make the cookies, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes so that it is pliable enough to roll out.

Preheat oven to 350f

Roll the dough to 1/4" thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Cut into circles using a 1 3/4" to 2" cookie cutter (depending upon the size of your flowers). You can do a mixture of both sizes if needed. The size of your flowers will dictate the size you need to cut the cookies into.

Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove from fridge and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until just lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place the cookies on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Apply the flowers

Reduce oven temp to 325F

After cookies have completely cooled, brush them lightly with egg wash. Carefully place the a flower on the top of each cookie and lightly brush the flower with the egg wash so that it adheres to the cookie.

Sprinkle each cooking lightly with granulated sugar.

Place the cookies back on the baking sheet and bake for another 5 minutes or until the flower has dried out.

Remove from the oven and place the cookies on the cooling rack.

Store cookies in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Note: My edible flowers were pretty large and thick so I had to use just some of the petals to construct a flower. Small, flat flowers are preferred for this recipe so you can keep the entire flower intact

Mother’s Day is coming! And what better cookies to make than those either in honor of or for our mothers? You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt Caramel Peanut Butter Cookies for #theleftoversclub

If you like dark chocolate, ooey gooey caramel, peanut butter and a sprinkling of sea salt (and honestly who doesn't?) then you will love these cookies!

The theme for this month's Leftovers Club exchange was salt. My intentions were to come up with a unique recipe using salt, but time got the best of me, as it often does, and I defaulted to everyone's favorite salted ingredient...salted caramel. I guess you can never go wrong with salted caramel right?

Well, I took this step even farther. Instead of making my own salted caramel (which I highly recommend), I cheated and used Rolo candies cut in half with a sprinkling of sea salt. Voila! Instant "cheaters" salted caramel!
For this recipe, I used my Whoopie Pie pan which I received as a gift a few years ago! I really like baking cookies in this pan. They turn out large and thick without spreading out too much and each one is the same size!
This month I was paired with Alli from Tornadough Alli! Don't you just love her blog name? Alli is one of 3 new members to The Leftovers Club and I for one know we're really excited to have her in our group!
 Alli sent me these delicious Sweet & Salty Ruffle Treats. They were so good!! Thanks Alli!
With this being Alli's first swap with the group, I knew I had to make a good impression. Not only did I send my package out to her early (normally I'm very last minute), but I also included these artisan salts handmade in Vista, CA where I live! I know Alli will come up with a creative use for them!
If you're interested in swapping delicious treats each month with a fun group of fellow bloggers, sign up to join over at Alwayz Bakin! You'll really enjoy it!!
Now onto the recipe...
Dark Chocolate, Seat Salt Caramel Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 16 large cookies
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (I used golden)
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup extra dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
20 rolo candies cut in half or thirds
Sea Salt & Extra dark chocolate chips for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350f

Place the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes) scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Add the egg, vanilla and peanut butter and mix at med-low speed until combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Fold in the dark chocolate chips.

Scoop about a tablespoon and a half of dough into each cup of your whoopee pie pan then smooth the dough out to the edges. The cup should be about 3/4 full but not all the way to the top.

Place a few cut up pieces of Rolos on top of each cookie. I like to alternate them with the cut side face up and face down. Then sprinkle a few dark chocolate chips on top. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top of each cookie making sure you put some on top of the caramel.

Bake at 350f for approx. 10 minutes. The edges should look set but the middles may still be soft. Do not over bake.

Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. Allow cookies to cool and set in pan for about 15 minutes then carefully remove by running a knife carefully around the edges and then lifting them out of the pan. Place on a wire cooling rack after removing.


Store leftovers tightly covered at room temp for up to 2 days.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Peppermint Brownies and Dairy Free Lemon Coconut Bars using Young Living Essential Oils

Before this post, if you had asked me whether or not I would ever consider baking with Young Living Essential Oils, my answer would have been a flat out "no". Well, as that old saying goes, "never say never"....
My friend Rachel recently asked me to make Peppermint Brownies and Lemon Bars using  Young Living Essential Oils for an upcoming event she was hosting. Truth be told, I was a little hesitant, and honestly I was prepared to hate the outcome. I thought the oils would give my baked goods that fake, artificial flavor that I hate. Boy, was I wrong!
I am not a fan of mint and chocolate together, but I absolutely loved how the Peppermint Brownies turned out. I did a trial run before the event and my husband and I couldn't stop eating them! They were that good! Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to run out and buy a box of Andes Mints or York Peppermint Patties, but I will be baking these brownies again that's for sure.
I also fell in love with these Dairy Free Lemon Coconut Bars using Young Living Lemon Essential Oil. Sometimes lemon desserts just don't capture that burst of fresh lemon flavor, however adding the Young Living Lemon Essential Oil, really boosted the lemon flavor without imparting any artificial taste like you would get with a flavored extract.
I can now honestly say that I'm looking forward to baking and experimenting using the entire line of Young Living Essential Oils. Peppermint and Lemon are just a few of the amazing options available. I'm excited to try out the tangerine essential oil next!
If you're interested in finding out more about Young Living 100% therapeutic grade oils, trying out these recipes (or adding essential oils to any of your own recipes), feel free to contact Rachel Lincoln directly. Just as she did with me, she will guide you in the right direction on your Young Living journey!
Young Living Peppermint Brownies
Makes 24 brownies (one 13"x9" pan)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons Hershey's dark cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate chopped (I use about half of a Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bar)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
6-8 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil
Follow the directions for "The Most Amazing Brownies" here, but after whisking in the vanilla extract, add 6 drops of Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil and whisk to combine. Taste the batter. If you like the strength of the peppermint flavor, proceed to the next step (folding in the flour mixture). If you would like a stronger peppermint flavor, add 2 more drops of essential oil and whisk to combine, then fold in the flour mixture. Continue as directed.
Store leftovers tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Young Living Dairy Free Lemon Coconut Bars
Makes 24 bars (one 13"x9" pan)
Crust Ingredients:
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut toasted (plus another 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top of the bars)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup coconut oil, solid
Filling Ingredients:
4 large eggs
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Zest from 2 large lemons
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 drops Young Living Lemon Essential Oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
Line a 13"x9" pan with nonstick aluminum foil or spray regular aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 350f
Add the 1/2 cup of toasted coconut to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until finely ground.
Place the ground coconut in a bowl and add the flour, both sugars and salt. Whisk to combine.
Add the solid coconut oil and cut the oil into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until mixture looks like coarse meal. 
Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan and bake for about 15 minutes or just until crust is lightly browned.
While the crust is baking, making the filling -
In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, then add the lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon essential oil, sugar, flour and salt and whisk well to combine.
Reduce oven temp to 325F
When the crust is ready, pour the filling over the hot crust and bake at 325f until firm (approx. 15 minutes).
Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool to room temp. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan and cut into squares. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of toasted coconut.
Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins

I'm normally not a whole wheat flour kind of girl, but lately I have been loving baking with King Arthur white whole wheat flour. I've found that baked goods made with whole wheat flour can have an overwhelming "wheat" taste and sometimes the texture is off (ie dry). I didn't have that same issue using the white whole wheat flour. You can still taste the flavor of the wheat, but it's not as dominant and is actually pretty complimentary in this recipe.

The key to this recipe ? Make sure your bananas are overly ripe. They should look black and feel mushy, that's when you know they're perfect for baking.
I also recommend placing the chopped strawberries on a paper towel to take away a bit of the moisture. Sometimes baking with strawberries can weigh the batter down due to the moisture.

If you'd like to learn more about baking with white whole wheat flour, King Arthur Flour has a great article here

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 overly ripe bananas (they should look black and be very mushy)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 large egg, room temp
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup fat free plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups of strawberries, chopped (place on a paper towel after chopping to remove some of the moisture)


Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

Place the bananas in a large bowl and mash them with a fork. Add the melted coconut oil, egg, light brown sugar, vanilla extract and yogurt. Whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir/fold lightly with a rubber spatula just until the dry ingredients are just about incorporated into the wet ingredients (a few remaining streaks of flour is ok).

Add the chopped strawberries and fold gently with a rubber spatula.

Fill the muffin cups with batter and bake for about 20-22 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly touched on top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and cool the muffins in the pan for about 2 minutes. Remove from pan and place directly on wire cooling rack.

These muffins are best eaten fresh. Store leftovers in an air tight container at room temp for up to one day.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Peach and Pistachio Frangipane Hamantashcen #creativecookieexchange

Spring is here, the sun is shining (well at least here in Southern California it is) and the flowers are in bloom! What could be better? Umm....cookies of course! 

The theme for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange was Traditional Spring Cookies from Around the World. Originally I wanted to post a recipe for Chinese Spring Festival (also known as Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year) Moon Cookies. It is traditional to eat Moon Cakes during this time of year, but I wanted to make them in cookie form using these beautiful moon cake molds. 

I travel to China quite a bit for work, so the Chinese Moon Cookie was a cookie I could relate to. Unfortunately, I ran into a glitch finding the ingredients I needed, so that's a recipe I'll have to save for another day. In the mean time, I still have these cool moon cake/cookie molds which I love...


So operation "Plan B" was Hamantaschen, a Jewish cookie traditionally eaten during Purim. I have never had Hamantaschen before, but I've always been intrigued by the traditional triangular shape and the wide variety of flavors. I decided to take this traditional Jewish cookie and give it a twist with Pistachio Frangipane and Peaches! Normally frangipane is made with almonds, but I wanted to use pistachios for a more unique flavor and also for the beautiful color it would give to the cookies. I added cardamom to the cookie dough to compliment the peach and pistachio flavors. The result was delicious twist on a traditional Spring Cookie!

Peach and Pistachio Frangipane Hamantaschen
Makes approx. 20 Cookies

Note: You will have leftover frangipane from this recipe. It makes a great croissant filling, just spread into an already baked croissant and bake until crispy/heated through

Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Powdered sugar for dusting your work surface

Pistachio Frangipane Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw shelled pistachios
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange peel
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg

1/2 cup peach jam or preserves (I used Sara Beth's)
Sugar in the raw for sprinkling
Egg wash (1 egg beating with a little water)


Make the filling

Place the pistachios, sugar, orange zest and baking powder in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped.

Add the butter and egg and process until you have a fairly smooth paste.

Make the dough

Place the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on med-low speed until creamy. Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula.

Mix in the egg yolk on low speed, then mix in the vanilla extract, cardamom and salt. Mix just until combined.

Add the flour and pulse a few times to incorporate some of the flour, then mix on low until a dough if formed. Divide the dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Assemble the cookies

Working with one disk of dough at a time, place the disk on a flat surface generously dusted with powdered sugar. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the disk, then roll into the dough to 1/4" thickness. Cut into shapes using a 3" cookie cutter. Place the disks of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place approx. 1/2 tsp of frangipane in the center of each disk, then place 1/2 tsp of peach jam on top.

Using your fingertip, wet the edges of the dough with water. Fold one side of the dough (either the left or right) partially over the filling, then fold the other side over at an angle to create a triangular shape. Last, fold the top part over.

Cupcake Project has a great visual tutorial on the folding process. Check it out here

Brush the cookies lightly with egg wash then sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake at 400f for approx. 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

We all associate cookies with “The” holidays in December, but spring holidays are a great time for cookies also! Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover, or something else, we’ve found some great traditional cookies from around the world for you!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Triple Tropical Luck , St. Patrick Dessert

If you're looking for a delicious and easy to make dessert for the St. Patrick holiday, you have found it!  I found the base of this recipe a few weeks ago as I was searching for  a good St. Patrick's Day drink.  Someone had made a similar dessert, but I decided to bring it up a notch by adding coconut, rum and graham crackers. Trust me, this dessert went from good to FANTASTIC ! The flavors are so good....a cross between a Pina Colada and a Keylime pie! Pure fluffy heaven!  I hope you give it a try!

Triple Tropical Luck St. Patrick's Day Dessert
Makes one 13"x9"pan (serves 12)

Note: While this dessert is easy to make, it does require refrigerating overnight. Plan ahead.

1 cup crushed pretzels
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1- 8oz package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup coconut milk + 2 tablespoons (full fat, it should look like soft butter) 
2- 8 oz containers Cool Whip (or 1-16 oz container)
1- 6oz box jello (lime)
1 - cup boiling water
1-  cup rum 
1 -20 oz  can crushed pineapple in juice
Colored Sprinkles

Preheat over to 400 degrees

Layer 1:
Mix together , crushed pretzels and graham cracker crumb with melted butter and sugar. Press crust mixture on a 13x9 pan.  Bake for 8 minute.  Remove and cool completely.

Layer 2:
Whip together the softened cream cheese and sugar.  Add in 3/4 cup coconut milk and 8oz of cool whip (save the other 8oz for topping).  Add 8-10 drops of green food coloring. Whip together . Spread over cooled crust.  Set aside.

Layer 3:
Dissolve jello into 1 cup of boiling water.  Add 1 cup of rum. Stir until complete dissolved.  Add pineapples with their juice to jello mixture.  Mix together.  Refrigerate for about 20-25 minute till it cools and begins to set just a bit.  Pour mixture on top of the coconut cream cheese mixture in pan. Refrigerate overnight.

Mix 8oz cool whip with 2 tablespoons coconut milk.  Spoon one tablespoon onto sliced dessert and top with sprinkles.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk & Pretzel Granola for #theleftoversclub

For this month's Leftover's Club I was paired with Elizabeth from Food Ramblings. Elizabeth just had an adorable baby boy, Jonah, about 2 months ago so I wanted to send her something a new Mom would enjoy.
As a mother to 3 boys, I know that new Moms are always super busy and never really have time to take care of themselves. I remember barely even having time to eat! I wanted to send Elizabeth a delicious, indulgent, somewhat "healthy" snack she could munch on while doing the million-and-one things new Moms do. That's how this granola was created.

It all started off pretty well with a few healthy ingredients; oats, peanut butter and nuts, but then I veered off course and threw in cinnamon and white chocolate chips I had in my pantry along with pretzels for salty crunch, chunks of dark chocolate cut from a leftover Trader Joe's chocolate bar and a healthy drizzle of melted dark chocolate. That's where the indulgent part comes in...

Every new Mom deserves a special treat. I hope Elizabeth enjoys it! And I hope her little man enjoys the little something I included for him too...

If you have a blog and would like to receive delicious treats in the mail each month, sign up to join The Leftovers Club here


Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Pretzel Granola w/Dark Chocolate Drizzle
Makes about 10 cups of granola

1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup rice crispy cereal
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup coconut
1 cup pretzels
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup dark chocolate chips + 1 cup for melting
1 cup cinnamon chips
1 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 250f

Place the peanut butter and butter in a medium size bowl and microwave until melted. Stir well to combine.

Place the oats, cereal, walnuts, almonds, coconut and pretzels in a large bowl. Top with the remaining ingredients. Pour the melted peanut butter mixture over to top and mix well until combined.

Place the mixture on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes. During the last part of the baking, I like to pack the mixture down to help the granola clump together during the cooling process which creates chunks/clusters when you break the mixture apart.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Break the mixture apart into chunks. Add the cinnamon chips, white chocolate chips and 1 cup of the dark chocolate chips and toss to combine.

Place the remaining 1 cup dark chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave in 30 seconds intervals, stirring well after each interval, until melted. Drizzle over the granola and allow to cool completely.

Store at room temp in an air tight container for 1 week.