Chocolate Peanut Butter Christmas Trees (gluten free)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Christmas Trees (gluten free) easy gluten free christmas cookies homemade christmas candy

I’m so excited to share this cheery little forest with you! 🌲 🌲 🌲

But first, how were y’all’s Thanksgivings?

Mine was wonderful. I worked in the morning, where I witnessed so much goodwill that I was literally jumping for joy (traditional sense of literal). It put me in a good mood right then and there.

I thought I was going to be wiped out by the time I got off, but everybody’s kindness must of energized me. I went home and changed and didn’t even need a nap before heading over to dinner.Chocolate Peanut Butter Christmas Trees (gluten free) easy gluten free christmas cookies homemade christmas candy

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, large gatherings make me nervous. But for some reason, I was fine almost the whole time. I got there late, so everyone had already eaten and where heading out for a walk.  That was really nice, too. I feel like in my family, everyone would have waited for me to get there. Then they would have laid on major guilt about making everyone wait.

Since everyone had eaten, there was no awkward “you go first no you go first” line and I just scooped up leftovers here and there, taking as much as I pleased. Mainly I ate cheesy potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Jason’s aunt makes some really good cheesy potatoes. I might try to steal her recipe, but add jalapenos or something.

It was the most relaxed Thanksgiving I’ve ever been to, and I got to hold a baby in my lap the whole time.*

*this does not mean I’m ready to have one of my own. 

So. I love my family, but Thanksgiving with Jason’s kin pretty much won over every Thanksgiving I had with my own folks.

Also, Jason’s family uses paper plates, which meant FEWER DISHES.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Christmas Trees (gluten free) easy gluten free christmas cookies homemade christmas candy

Okay, okay, enough about the holiday. Let’s talk about the cheery forest. I wanted to call it a magical little forest, that reminds me of bad paperbacks from the discount bin.

But these trees really are magical. Peanut butter with chocolate is enchanting in almost any form, but particularly if said form is a Christmas tree!

They are wonderfully easy to make. Ground up cereal, melted PB, and coconut oil come together to make this nice pliable dough to form the trees with. Then just a dip in melted chocolate and you’re good to go.

Since they include ingredients almost everyone enjoys, they are a great choice to bring to your next Christmas party. I feel like they’re already a classic in our home, and I hope they’ll be a classic in yours too. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Christmas Trees (gluten free) easy gluten free christmas cookies homemade christmas candy

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chexmas Trees

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz box of Corn Chex
  • 1 and 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • holiday sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Use a food processor to grind the Chex to a fine, sandy powder. Mix in the salt.
  2. Use a double boiler to melt the coconut oil peanut butter together. It's melted enough when the peanut butter-coconut oil mixture drizzles in a thin, smooth stream off your spatula
  3. Turn off heat, but do not remove peanut butter from heat source. Mix Chex powder, 1/4 cup at a time, into the peanut butter.
  4. Allow mixture to cool slightly and then shape into a ball.
  5. Place the ball on a pan, then tap the pan against a hard, flat surface several times to allow the ball to flatten into a disk that is approx. 1/3 inch thick, diameter 9—9 1/2 inches.
  6. Cool disk in fridge for 5-8 min.
  7. Cut different size triangles into the disk — 28-30 of them.
  8. Stand the triangles up. For the larger triangles, curl the two bottom edges back slightly. They will resemble a slight c-shape from above. This will allow them to stand up without falling.
  9. Place triangles in freezer for 30-35 minutes.
  10. Melt the chocolate. Holding the trees on one side, use a silicone spatula to "paint" the chocolate onto the front and back of the trees. The larger trees will need to be set in the chocolate while you're doing this.
  11. Add the holiday sprinkles.
  12. Allow chocolate to harden before serving.

Notes

For a more kid-friendly method, melt the pb in the microwave and then put the pb bowl over a bowl of warm water while you mix in the cereal.

http://kitchenwindowclovers.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-christmas-trees-gluten-free/

 

3 in 1: Quick Roast Veggies, Leftovers Pancakes, Crunchy Chocolate Party Sticks

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we’re all busy in our kitchens, cooking up some love for our families. But holidays are also a stressful time, and keeping yourself happy while keeping the rest of your family happy can be hard. Here are a few things that I hope will make your life a little easier over the next week or so.

The first is a way to roast veggies in under ten minutes, no joke. The second is a delicious way to use up leftovers of this and that; to reduce waste where you can.

The last is extra special. A simple candy that almost anyone can make. Only a handful of ingredients (two for a pared-down version, four for the fancy version), with a crunchy, addictive result.

Quick Roasted Veggies 

quick roasted veggies

My favorite busy night dinner is roasted Brussels sprouts with either potatoes, tortillas, or pasta. And then I cook Jason some chicken or turkey keilbasa, with one of the three aforementioned carbs, and some salad. I dislike cooking meat, but if I didn’t cook it for him, he’d eat it elsewhere.

I used to love drowning the sprouts in cheese, which essentially negates the whole point of having veggies for dinner. My clothes were feeling a little tight and uncomfy, and I knew cheese was the main culprit. My running felt sluggish, which inevitably puts me in a bad mood. So I made this sauce as a way of scaling back on the cheese. It’s just as a satisfying and stupid easy, and Jason loves it.

I came up with a quick-roast method of making my sprouts so that I could still have my favorite veggie even when I got home from work late. Sure, the flavor isn’t as deep, but you still get the soft sprout under a caramelized crust. If you’re rushing around trying to get the house ready for guests and still need something healthy for dinner, this is a great option

Quick Roasted Sprouts 

  • 1 cup sprouts (or more), quartered
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • seasoned salt

Turn on the broiler. Put the sprouts in a microwave and oven safe dish. Microwave for two minutes. Add oil and seasoning. Broil for 3-4 minutes on one side, turn, and then broil for 2-3 minutes on the other side.

Easy Cream Sauce

  • 1/3 cup good quality fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • pinch of cumin
  • salt to taste

Stir all ingredients until an even color and consistency is reached.

Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes 

Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes

I have a great appreciation for using up leftovers. Food waste is a terrible problem in this country, and it happens far too often. I’m guilty of it myself (comes with the food blog territory), but I try to keep it to a minimum. These pancakes were made using leftover cornbread mix, and the pumpkin was leftover puree.  This topping reminded me of why I used to love pumpkin pie. In the past few years, I’ve fallen out of love with it, preferring to the mix the squash with chocolaty things, or really just about anything that wasn’t straight-up pie. But this brought me back. Maybe because it’s so scaled down. Maybe because it doesn’t have the density that can sometimes kill an otherwise lovely pie. Maybe it’s because the fall flavors lend themselves well to breakfast. Here, they are not the full-of-stuffing-and-Beaujolais dinner denouement. They are the sunshiney greeting to the start of your day.

This makes just a small batch, enough for one or two people, but it’s easily multiplied.

Pancakes 

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill gf cornbread mix, or other similar cornbread mix
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • coconut oil, for the pan

Combine egg and milk, then combine cornbread mix and baking powder. Wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Bring a pan to medium heat and melt the coconut oil. Spoon 1/8th cup (2 tbsp) of the pancake batter into the pan for each pancake. Cook for 2 – 2 1/2 min on one side, flip, and cook for another minute or so. Serve with pumpkin topping. Makes about 15 dollar size pancakes.

Topping 

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
  • toasted pecans and salted butter, for serving

Combine all ingredients, except for the pecans and butter. Serve warm over cornmeal pancakes.

Crunchy Chocolate Party Sticks

Crunchy Chocolate Party Sticks 

Jason LOVES these. A few days ago, I made a batch and left them in the fridge for him, in a paper bag with a big heart on it. When I got home from work that night, I found the following scene: husband fast asleep on the couch, Netflix playing softly on the TV, and the bag, torn into like a raccoon had gotten to it. And it was completely empty. Which was fine, since I’d made them for him, but also, it was a huge batch. These are super addictive, so proceed with caution.

The are also ridiculously easy. If you need just one more dessert, or need something quick to bring to a party, this is it. And you don’t even have to make it yourself. Enlist a bored relative to help you out, or round up a few of the kids. PS, I still consider myself one of the kids. That’s probably because I don’t have any yet. whew!

Crunchy Chocolate Party Sticks

  • 2 cups of Rice Chex
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup of sweetened shredded coconut (optional. I like them with coconut, Jason likes them without)
  • food coloring for the coconut

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Pour over the cereal, and stir gently, being careful not to break any of them up. When the cereal is completely coated, lay some wax paper out on a cookie sheet. Make rows of cereal – each piece touching the next, but not overlapping. You can make the sticks as long or short as you like. If you want longer sticks, reduce the cereal to 1 3/4 cup, so that there is more chocolate on each piece and the bonds are stronger. Sprinkle with coconut. Place in the freezer to harden, then gently peel them off the wax paper. Enjoy! This makes about 18-20 sticks of assorted sizes.

 

 

Sweet and Salty Buckeyes

sweet and salty crunchy buckeyes

My husband is an Ohio native. We were living in North Carolina when we met, and I thought we would live there pretty much forever, but then life happened and we moved here.  He’s been here since January, and I came up in July.

It’s been an adjustment. I miss my favorite running trails, particularly because I feel that flat terrains are harder on the body.  And, um….there’s a lot of flat terrain here.

But I have gotten to do a bunch of fun Ohio things, like stuffing myself with fresh heartland produce, and going to a game at THE Ohio State University. We haven’t gone apple picking yet, but I hope to soon. And we’re going to a bonfire at his cousin’s farm, which I’m really looking forward to because I love love his folks.

sweet and salty crunchy buckeyes

But there’s still a lot of Ohio stuff I haven’t done — like survive the winter here yet, har har — and make buckeyes. So I had to make some buckeyes! But I’m not a real Buckeye, so I couldn’t make the traditional creamy centered powdered sugar kind. They are made with cereal, which gives them a very slight crunch.  And the peanut butter is a little salty, so they have that whole salty sweet thing goin’ on with you can love, no matter where you’re from.

sweet and salty crunchy buckeyes
I’m going to finish this Brutus eventually

I thought that my husband was a sturdy son of Ohio, through and through. Like, on one of our first dates, I put the accent on the wrong syllable in  “Tressel” and got a big long lecture. So I thought was prepared for the madness, but I was OH so wrong.  I still have a lot of learning to do, about history and traditions and what you can and can’t say during the week before Thanksgiving. So I gotta ask, what are y’all’s favorite Ohio traditions?

 

Crunchy Buckeyes

Yield: 28-30 buckeyes

Serving Size: 1 buckeye

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz box of corn chex
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips
  • special equipment
  • toothpicks (duh)

Instructions

  1. Use your food processor to reduce the Chex to a fine, sandy dust. Work in batches to end up with a better result. You should end up with about two cups of pulverized cereal.
  2. Add the salt to the Chex sand. I placed it in an airtight container and shook it up.
  3. Melt the peanut butter and coconut oil together in a double boiler set over medium heat. (I don't have a real double boiler, but an oven-safe bowl set over the pot worked really well). Stir constantly. It's melted enough when the peanut butter-coconut oil mixture drizzles in a thin, smooth stream off your spatula. If it plops, it's not melted enough.
  4. Without removing the peanut butter from the heat, mix in the Chex sand.
  5. Stir the peanut butter and sand until you get a crumbly mixture. Remove from heat.
  6. Using your hands, continue to mix the powder and the pb until it comes together more, something resembling a dry cookie dough. Although it looks and feels very clumpy now, it will get smooth once you start to roll the balls.
  7. Roll up the mix into balls just a little smaller than a tablespoon. Stick the toothpicks into the balls as you go -- it will help the toothpick stay inside the ball during dipping. You should end up with 28-30 balls, depending on the size.
  8. Place the balls in the freezer for about 5-8 minutes.
  9. Melt the chocolate (a double boiler works great once again!)
  10. Dip the balls in the chocolate. A swirling action ensures a good coating. You may need to return the chocolate to the heat once or twice.
  11. Allow the chocolate to harden. Or don't. Jason! They're not ready yet.

Notes

If the balls don't seem to be forming at first, let the mixture sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes or so. It will firm up some, making it easier to work with.

Even though they keep their shape well at room temp (thanks, coconut oil!), it's best to store these in the fridge.

http://kitchenwindowclovers.com/sweet-and-salty-crunchy-buckeyes/

Good Ol’ Chocolate Chex Mix

easy chocolate chex mix

Sometimes I’m afraid that I blame too much on being a rookie blogger. Like the matcha-not-matcha biscotti.

I made these matcha biscotti, and while they were delicious, they did not taste like matcha. So I made them again with more matcha, and they still did not taste like green tea. I wanted to make them a third time, but by then I was down to one bag of almond flour, and I needed to make it last until my next order came in.

Chex mix, on the other hand, I can nail every time. That’s the beauty in Chex mix. It’s reliable. It always tastes good. You can’t mess up Chex mix. Even if you’re me.

Heck, you can’t even mess up chocolate-covered espresso beans, even if you’re me. I should know. BGE can be somewhat of a picky eater (who doesn’t like french fries??!), and he ate through two batches of beans before I could even make the mix.

Now, dipping the beans can be a little tricky. Luckily, Shelly, one of the Great Sages of Internet Sweets, has wonderful advice on dipping small objects. Using a fork, dip a few beans at a time and then tap the fork to remove the excess chocolate – pretty much what you’d do to dip anything else.  Then, using a chopstick or similar tool, flick the beans onto wax paper. Yes. You have to flick one bean at a time. But it’s really easy work. Almost meditative. And who wouldn’t want to meditate in chocolate?

I wasn’t sure if I should post this because it’s not a truly a recipe, and chocolate Chex mixes aren’t a new idea. But it came out exactly as I wanted, smells great, and tastes even better, so I figured that was more than enough.

 

Good Ol' Chocolate Chex Mix

Good Ol' Chocolate Chex Mix

Ingredients

    for the cereal
  • 1 box of Chocolate Chex, with all the plain pieces picked out
  • for the almonds
  • 1 cup of raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tsp honey
  • pinch of salt
  • for the espresso beans
  • about 1 cup of beans
  • 5-6 oz. of dark chocolate

Instructions

    for the almonds
  1. Combine the cocoa and salt, then set aside.
  2. Place the almonds and honey in a small saucepan and heat on low.
  3. Stir so all the almonds are evenly coated with honey.
  4. Add in the cocoa and continue to stir until almonds are evenly coated. Remove from heat.
  5. for the espresso beans
  6. Melt or temper the chocolate.
  7. Remove from heat and dip the beans.
  8. It'd easiest to dip them a few at a time (5-6) . You might need to return the chocolate to the double boiler or microwave if it starts to harden. A good way to keep it from hardening is to stir it vigorously after every few dips.
  9. Allow chocolate to harden and cool completely before adding to mix.
  10. for the mix
  11. Put the chocolate chex pieces, almonds, and espresso beans in a big bowl and toss to combine. You'll end up with about 7 cups.
http://kitchenwindowclovers.com/good-ol-chocolate-chex-mix/

Almond recipe from The Pescetarian and the Pig.