Coconut Key Lime Energy Bites + 2 Year Blog Anniversary! (GF, DF, Paleo)

Slightly tangy but sweet, these coconut lime energy bites are a perfect light dessert or healthy on-the-go snack option!

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My blog turns 2 today, and I’m celebrating with a healthy little sweet treat: coconut key lime energy bites! If you’ve been reading Audrey’s Apron from the beginning, you know this blog idea had been a long-time dream of mine since college and I finally put it into motion 2 years ago today. A lot has changed in the 2 years that I’ve been blogging. I’m thrilled that so many of you follow this little cooking journey of mine. And it really does make my day when you comment that you made a recipe and loved it!

The biggest change on the blog this year? Probably my photography skills! It’s still a work in progress, for sure, but at least I’m not taking pictures with my phone camera anymore! OH the horrors! My ever-supportive husband got me a real, legit DSLR camera for my birthday this year and it has been so fun using it!

So, I just want to say THANK YOU for following, reading, commenting, tweeting, etc. I love sharing our culinary successes together!

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Back to this yummy recipe. I found these to be a perfectly delicious paleo substitute for key lime pie. They’re much healthier, and bite-sized, so that’s a win!

The coconut is totally optional, by the way.
I just love how it makes them look sort of like little snowballs.
Or truffles.
Yum!
So for all you coconut-averse readers, just know it’s more for aesthetics and you can definitely leave it off.

A word of wisdom: make sure that your dates are in fact pitted before you throw them in your food processor and turn it on.
Otherwise it will begin to jump wildly all over the counter while making an AWFUL noise.
Don’t ask me how I know, just promise me you’ll double check, ok? Ok.
P.S. The dates I bought from Costco most definitely did have pits in them. #IwishIwouldhavedoublechecked.

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So the great thing about this recipe is that the food processor does all the work for you! Throw in some cashews, almonds, dates (pitted!), lime zest & juice, and turn it on! Then all you have to do is form the mixture into little balls and roll them into coconut if you so choose.

Pack them in your lunch, serve them as dessert, or keep a few in your purse for emergencies–these chewy energy bites are perfect for whenever you need a quick boost!

Coconut Key Lime Energy Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups medjool dates, pitted
  • Zest and juice from 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut for rolling, optional

1). In a food processor, add the cashews and almonds. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.

2). Add the dates and lime zest and juice. Pulse until the dates are finely chopped and the mixture begins to clump together.

3). Scoop about a tablespoon of the mixture out and roll it into a ball. Roll in shredded coconut if desired, then repeat with remaining mixture. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 4 days, or in the fridge. Enjoy!

Servings: about 15. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 74 Carbs: 9g Fat: 4g Protein: 2g Fiber: 1g Points+: 2 Recipe adapted from here. Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

Roasted Red and Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary. (GF)

Red potatoes and sweet potatoes roasted together with rosemary make a simple, easy side dish perfect for any meal.

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I recently fell in love with the flavor combination of rosemary and sweet potatoes. There’s something so earth-y and wonderful about the two that make them go together so well. It’s a simple combination, really, but not one that I made at home before, and this dish lived up to all of my expectations. It’s hard to go wrong with potatoes though, am I right?

Even though I 110% adore sweet potatoes, for whatever reason I equally wanted red potatoes when I made this dish, hence the decision to mix them together. This also made my husband happy since he typically prefers red potatoes over sweet any day. All that to say, every potato lover in your family will be happy when you serve them these! You can also use regular white potatoes if you prefer, or even use only sweet potatoes!

Reason #274 why I love this dish: I love any excuse to gather fresh rosemary from our back yard. If you’ve ever wondered if you should plant a rosemary bush, the answer is a resounding yes! It’s so convenient to never worry about running out.

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These potatoes roast low and slow in the oven, leaving you with plenty of time to focus on the main dish while they do their thing in the oven. It’s brutally cold and windy out, and this side dish screams warm and cozy, which is exactly what I want in my life right now! I hope you enjoy it!

Roasted Red and Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary (GF)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter (or olive oil for dairy-free/vegan)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2-2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

1). Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the butter in a 9×13 pan and put it in the oven for a couple minutes to melt the butter. Remove from oven and add the remaining ingredients, tossing well to ensure even seasoning.

2). Roast for about an hour, stirring 2-3 times, until the potatoes are golden and tender.

Servings: about 8. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 159 Carbs: 26g Fat: 5g Protein: 3g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 4g Points+: 4. Recipe adapted from here.

The Best of Audrey’s Apron in 2014: The 10 Most Popular Recipes!

Here are the top 10 most popular recipes of 2014 based on your views and comments! Some of my personal favorites are in the mix (especially #1, #2, #3, and #10).

I hope you will use this list to jump start your cooking in 2015 with some new recipes! Click the title above each picture to view the recipe. Thanks for a great 2014!!

1). Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes (GF, DF, Vegan)

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Wow, did this recipe ever take off this year! This was by far the most popular post, and for good reason–these are one of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes. One comment said, “These were so good! It was like eating CANDY!”

2). Parmesan Upside Down Baked Potatoes (GF)

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This recipe was the #1 most popular recipe of 2013, and I’m not surprised to see it in this year’s top 10 post because it is awesome! Sandy left a comment that said, “I made these tonight as part of a Pinterest meal blog post. They were very good. I added the rosemary, which is a favorite of mine with potatoes. Thanks!”

3). Lemon and Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken (GF, DF, Paleo)

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Hands-down, this is my go-to favorite marinade for grilled chicken. It’s super easy (5 ingredients!) and light–no oil needed here!

4). No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls (GF, DF)

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Don’t let the terrible photo fool you–these are SO, so good!! You probably have everything you need in your pantry to make these sweet treats right now. 1 bowl and 6 basic ingredients is all you need!

5). Southwestern Grilled Sweet Potato Salad (GF, DF)

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Love all the colors in this salad! It’s a great side dish or main dish for vegetarians/vegans. It’s also a fabulous option for a potluck or picnic as it does not need to be refrigerated like a traditional potato salad.

6). Baked Chicken Taquitos (GF if using corn tortillas)

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Eat them whole as a main dish or cut them in half for an appetizer–either way they are amazing! I love this recipe and I think your whole family will, too! Bonus: they reheat well!

7). Pappasito’s Fajita Steak Marinade (DF)

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This simple marinade mimics the flavors of the famous Pappasito’s fajita steak! It’s delicious and so simple–just 3 ingredients!

8). Oven Baked Corn on the Cob (GF, without butter: DF, Vegan)

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A great, easy way to perfectly cook corn for a crowd! It’s ideal for cookouts because you can leave the corn wrapped in foil to keep it warm after it’s cooked.

9). Roasted Parmesan Sweet Potatoes (GF)

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Love this simple way to cook sweet potatoes! It’s easy and delicious.

10). Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing + A Salad Idea (GF, DF, Paleo, Vegan)

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That title says it all–this salad dressing is quick, easy, and healthy! I’ve made this numerous times whenever I want a change from my balsamic vinaigrette.

And there you have it: the top 10 most popular recipes for this year! Thank you so much for following along my cooking journey–I’m looking forward to a great 2015!

Buckeyes. (GF)

The classic peanut butter and chocolate dessert–perfection!

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Peanut butter + chocolate.

It’s one of my husband’s favorite combinations, and over the years we’ve been married it has become one of mine, too!

I know buckeyes are a Christmas tradition for many families, but although that isn’t the case with mine, I’m quickly getting on board. If you’ve never had a buckeye before, it’s pretty much like eating peanut butter frosting dipped in chocolate.

Yup. They’re amazing.

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And, they’re gluten-free! Hooray!

I made these recently for a friend who just had a baby and I forgot how much fun it is to make these. It does take a while to dip the buckeyes in the chocolate, but just have fun and enjoy the process.

Now all you need to do is turn on some Christmas music and sing your way through making the recipe!

Buckeyes (GF)

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter, room-temperature (can soften in the microwave if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Make sure you have enough room in the freezer for the cookie sheet.

2). In a large bowl, use a hand-held mixer (or wooden spoon) to mix the peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract, and salt together. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix until fully incorporated.

3). Roll the peanut butter mixture into 1 inch balls (I cheated and used a cookie scoop!). Set them on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and add a toothpick in the top of each one. Freeze for about 30 minutes or until hard.

4). Fill a medium sized pot with about 1 inch of water. Place it on the stove over medium heat until simmering, then set it to low to keep it barely simmering. Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave, heat-proof bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, and stir. Continue microwaving in 30 second intervals for 1 more minute, stirring each time. Place this bowl on top of the simmering pot of water and stir until the chocolate and shortening are completely melted.

5). Use the toothpick as a handle to carefully dip the buckeyes in the chocolate, leaving the top center exposed. Place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and either refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 30 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and gently smooth the peanut butter over the hole from the toothpick. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month!

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

 

No-Bake Chocolate Almond Butter Cups. (GF, DF)

A rich gluten-free, dairy-free dessert without refined sugars! Keep a stash in your freezer to satisfy your next sweet tooth!

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Um, guys?

This recipe is a game-changer. I’m struggling to find the words to accurately convey to you how incredibly awesome these little chocolate almond butter cups are! The flavor. The texture. The chocolate!

They. Are. Delicious!!

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And the best part? This is a guilt-free dessert that doesn’t taste like one. Don’t you hate biting into a “healthy” dessert only to be left wishing for the real deal? Not here. My husband and I were absolutely SHOCKED at how good these were, and not in a that’s-good-considering-it’s-a-paleo-treat kind of way. These are just plain ol’ GOOD. I made these after having eliminated refined sugars for two months and I was on a mission to make something that tasted great but was not full of sugar. The only source of sweetness in these chocolate cups comes from a minimal amount of maple syrup, so they are refined-sugar free. But again, you’d never guess it!

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To make these amazing little cups of yummyness, combine almond flour, a touch of maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond butter. One taste of this mixture and you know things are headed in a great direction. That all gets pressed down into muffin tins.

I used a regular muffin pan, but if you want to make them more bite-sized you can use a mini-muffin pan if you have one.

Then, the chocolate sauce.

Confession time.

I had no idea making chocolate could be this easy! Just mix melted coconut oil, maple syrup for sweetness, and pure cocoa powder. The result? Silky, rich chocolate sauce! Pour this on top of the almond butter mixture, top with flaked sea salt and/or sliced almonds, and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Seeeee? Easy! These are my new favorite dessert.

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You do need to keep these cold so the chocolate doesn’t start to melt, but I love having them in the freezer and pulling one out on occasion for a satisfying dessert made of real ingredients and minimal sugar.

P.S. I know these aren’t traditional Christmas cookies, but I think they’d be a great addition! They would cater to every family member’s special dietary needs (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, etc.) and still taste amazing. Plus, you can make them ahead of time!

Here’s a quick video I made explaining how to make them!

No-Bake Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (GF, DF, Paleo, Vegan)

For the almond butter base:

  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup, warmed if refrigerated
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup, warmed if refrigerated
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of sea salt, to taste

Optional toppings: flaked sea salt, sliced almonds, coconut, etc.

1). Line a muffin pan with liners and make sure there is enough room in the freezer for the muffin pan.

2). In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the base. The dough should be a little bit sticky similar to the texture of cookie dough.

3). Equally distribute the dough into the bottom of the muffin pans (I got 9 thick cups). Press down until it is smooth and flat.

4). In a small bowl, combine the chocolate sauce ingredients, whisking together until smooth. Equally spoon the chocolate over the base of the cups. Top with flaked sea salt and/or sliced almonds, coconut, etc.

5). Place the muffin pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes before enjoying. Store remaining cups in the freezer until ready to eat. These are delicious straight from the freezer!

Servings: 9 (large) cups. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 266 Carbs: 11g Fat: 21g Protein: 6g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 8g Points+: 7 Recipe adapted from here.

Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron. 

Butternut Squash Soup (GF, DF, Paleo) — Guest Post

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Today I’m posting a delicious, healthy butternut squash soup recipe over on Vylette. I met Julie, the author behind the blog, at the Maiedae mixer a couple months ago and have stayed in touch ever since! Julie has such a warm, inviting personality and I’m so glad we started chatting at the mixer. She’s one of those people you can instantly connect with. I am honored she asked me to post on her blog. Her posts are always beautiful and inspiring!

Since we’re still in Thanksgiving-countdown mode, I wanted to share an easy recipe you just might not have thought of yet that would be perfect for the holiday: butternut squash soup! I make it several times each fall and it is naturally gluten free, and can easily be made dairy free, paleo, vegetarian, and vegan! Hooray for addressing everyone’s dietary concerns!

Click here to check out the full recipe and see all of the wonderful posts Julie has on her lifestyle blog!

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Questions? Comments? Let me know!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Mashed Sweet Potatoes. (GF)

 5 simple ingredients come together to create a comforting side dish perfect for holidays, guests, or just a weeknight meal!

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It’s the week of Thanksgiving!!! The last month has been an absolute WHIRLWIND and I’m so thankful for a week off to catch up on every area of my life. You too? I thought so.

All you need is a scoop of creamy, lusciously savory spinach & goat cheese mashed sweet potatoes to know holiday time is here. Not that you couldn’t make it year-round (guilty!), but it’s the type of dish that looks and tastes fancy. I mean spinach + goat cheese + sweet potatoes? That could definitely be on a restaurant menu.

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So, if you’re looking for a really unique side to bring to impress all your foodie friends, or you just want to step up your weeknight dinner game, you’ve got to make this dish.

Also–feel free to swap out the spinach for kale depending on what you have on hand! Enjoy!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Mashed Sweet Potato

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes (I used 1 large and 2 medium)
  • 4 cups chopped spinach
  • 3/4-1 cup milk (I used non-fat)
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • Freshly cracked pepper and sea salt

1). Bring a large pot of water to a boil Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-2 inch cubes. Add the sweet potatoes to the boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes or until softened.

2). Drain the sweet potatoes. To the now empty pot, add the spinach, milk, and goat cheese and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until the spinach has wilted. Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper.

3). Add the sweet potatoes back to the pot. Mash until you reach your preferred consistency. Add more milk if necessary. Enjoy!

Servings: about 4. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 181 Carbs: 22g Fat: 6g Protein: 10g Fiber: 3g Points+: 5 
Recipe adapted from here. Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.