No-Bake Spiced Date Balls

Listen guys, I made date balls. And they’re delicious. And OF COURSE I want to share the recipe.

As expected, I found this fabulous recipe on Foodgawker a while ago (click here for original recipe) and it’s been sitting in my favorites for a while. I’ve been thinking about making it for a couple weeks now, and I finally got around to grabbing the ingredients late this morning.

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I often think about how genuinely blessed I am to live in the Metro Detroit area – we have literally ALL KINDS of ethnic food stores in the area thanks to the vast diversity of people from all over the world that live here. Therefore, finding things like date paste is a breeze. I’m not sure how it is in other parts of the country, but drop me a comment and let me know what your area is like in terms of cultural diversity, I’m interested!

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Now, as I’m sure you all have realized by now, I almost never follow recipes exact. I like to alter them to mine and my family’s tastes and dietary needs. So for this one, I eliminated the coconut sugar coating, cashews, and the ginger powder, and added cardamom, allspice, almonds, and two kinds of coconut flakes.

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No-Bake Spiced Date Balls

Ingredients:
– 2 handfuls of almonds, medium-fine chopped
– 2.5 lbs date paste (yes, pounds)
– 7 oz sweetened coconut flakes (big, flat)
– 1 tbsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1/8 tsp cardamom
– 1/8 tsp allspice
– 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
– 2 tbsp water
– 1 bag finely chopped dry coconut flakes for coating (tiny, short)

Directions:
1. Combine almonds, sweetened coconut flakes, date paste, spices, and water in a big bowl.
2. Knead until well combined.
3. Roll into 1 inch balls and dip into finely chopped dry coconut flakes.
4. Refrigerate and enjoy.

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Cocoa Almond Pumpkin Cheesecake

I felt inspired to cook a little over a week ago and spent one of my days off making vegetarian enchiladas as well as today’s recipe: Cocoa Almond Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Of course, I found this recipe on the internet’s best recipes database, Foodgawker, and I made some tweaks, as usual. I didn’t have almond flour on hand, so I ground fresh almonds in my blender for the crust. I also added cardamom instead of nutmeg and ginger to the cheesecake part, as well as real cream cheese instead of making the vegan version.

Check out the original recipe by clicking here, and my version down below.

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Cocoa Almond Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients
Crust
– 2 cups almond flour OR ground almonds
– 3 tbsp cocoa powder
– 3 tbsp sweetener (coconut sugar)
– 1/4 tsp baking soda
– pinch of salt
– 4 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
Filling
– 1.5 cups pumpkin puree
– 1 cup cream cheese
– 1/4 cup sweetener (coconut sugar)
– 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
– 1.5 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. Combine dry ingredients for crust.
3. Add coconut oil and combine.
4. Press crust into 9 x 9 baking pan.
5. Bake 15 minutes.
6. Blend filling ingredients with an electric mixture, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Pour filling over cooled crust.
8. Refrigerate 3-4 hours, serve chilled.

Simple Strawberry Cake

Two things:

1. I love baking because it’s an art that gives me very quick and satisfying results.
2. I LOVE STRAWBERRY SEASON.

My dad bought a TON of strawberries for $2 (!!!) and I decided earlier this afternoon that I needed to make something quick, delicious, and not too fattening, so of course I hit up my favorite cooking website, Foodgawker, for recipes.

I found this one and went with it.

A few changes I made:
– Used coconut sugar instead of regular sugar because we don’t have regular sugar at the moment – it gave the cake its browny color.
– Used TruWhip skinny whipped cream instead of the homemade version given in the recipe – saving on a lot of calories, sugar, and carbs here.
– I “greased” my pan with spray oil.
– I added cardamom powder to the batter.

Ingredients:

1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar (coconut sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Instructions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom powder.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted (COOLED!) butter, egg, and vanilla extract.
4. Mix in wet ingredients with dry – batter will be thick. Fold in strawberries.
5. Bake for 25 minutes in a 9 inch pan (until toothpick comes out clean from center).
6. Cool cake before applying whipped cream and sliced strawberries on top. Keep refrigerated.

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Chrysanthemum Collection

In the past few years, I’ve discovered that I really love Chrysanthemum flowers. They’re gorgeous to look at, but even more interesting to shoot.

In this set, I’m featuring the ones I took photos of using my 50mm portrait lens – and this was by accident, because I realized too late on the way to the flower shop that I had the wrong lens on. But I think the photos turned out well regardless.

They were all shot on manual mode. My floral pieces always turn out better on manual. And I think I’m finally starting to better understand my camera. Ya know, 2 years later.

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F-stop: f/1.8 Exp: 1/640 sec. ISO: 320

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F-stop: f/1.8 Exp: 1/1250 sec. ISO: 320