Cherry Almond Chocolate Clusters

I'm baaack! Still not fully unpacked, but I had to hit the kitchen anyway.

True confession..... I hate making ugly food. I love when food looks beautiful. Yes - taste is the most important thing, but honestly, there's something about creating food that looks pretty or beautiful...... before you devour it. I gotta get over it.

These tasty little candies are not pretty. I have some ideas about making them a little sweeter to the eye, maybe making them in candy molds, or adding a little drizzle of white chocolate, but for now they are what they are.

DAY 2: OK - made them smaller and dressed them up with White Chocolate. Better.

Several of you have had them recently, and I've been asked for the recipe - so here it is. This recipe is from the Food Network website - but I've simplified the instructions somewhat. Only three ingredients, and they are really easy (and somewhat messy) to make. Oh - and No Added Sugar - always a plus!

When making chocolate candies, you really want to use the best quality chocolate you can afford. All chocolate is not created equal. If you can't afford Sharffen Berger or Valrhona Chocolate, Ghirardelli is a good alternative. Lately, I've been using Trader Joe's brand called PoundsPlus (wonder what that means??? LOL). It's 72% Dark Chocolate, imported from Belgium, and tastes great.

Cherry Almond Chocolate Clusters


  • 1 cup coarsely chopped roasted almonds (see instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dry cherries
  • 6 oz. Dark Chocolate

Set out parchment paper or wax paper on two trays (I use sheet pans).
  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt it slowly in the top of a double boiler (I just put a bowl over a pot of simmering water)
  2. Mix together the chopped nuts and chopped dried cherries.
  3. When melted, remove the chocolate from the heat. Mix the nut-cherry mix into the chocolate and blend together completely with a rubber spatula or spoon.
  4. Spoon out heaping tablespoons of the chocolate into mounds onto the parchment paper (I use a cookie scoop). You may have to shape them slightly with your hands (that's the messy part).
  5. When ALL of the chocolates have been scooped, and not a moment before, lick your fingers :-)
  6. Place the pans in the refrigerator to set for about 20 minutes or so
  7. Option: Melt some good quality white chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cold chocolates. Return them to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to set.

That's it! They are ready to eat! These will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days (if they last that long and it's not 100 degrees outside). I have also found that they freeze very well, much to my surprise. I place one or two in a small plastic snack-size bag, and then put the small bags into a freezer bag (make sure to get all the air out before closing the freezer bag) and pop them into the freezer.

Dry Roasting Almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  1. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or foil
  2. Spread out nuts in a single layer
  3. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes
  4. Remove from oven and carefully grab corners of the paper and lift the nuts out, placing on cooling rack.

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Gluten-free Blueberry Almond Cookies

Before I leave for two weeks on a vacation to visit friends, I wanted to share another fun recipe. Still taking advantage of summer fruit while it's here - I really was in the mood for a new kind of cookie. Blueberries in a cookie? A cookie full of anti-oxidants? Sounds like a great idea.....but I haven't figured out if this is a cookie or a muffin :-) I adapted this recipe to make it gluten-free from a recipe by Giada De Laurentis at the Food Network.

It's looks like a cookie and bakes like a cookie, but it has the texture of a muffin. Kind of like a muffin top. Yeah! Who doesn't love a muffin top!

The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar. I used 1/2 cup of the Splenda Blend product. I think next time I will cut it back to 1/3 cup. They are plenty sweet. You could probably use all Splenda as well - but baked goods generally don't brown with all Splenda. You could also use part Splenda and part sugar. But I would definitely keep it under a cup.

Gluten-free Blueberry Almond Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups Gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal or finely ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup Splenda-blend
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 - 2 tsp lemon or orange zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (or any nuts, really)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Parchment paper on your cookie sheet is recommended, or you can grease your cookie sheet.
  1. Combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, and Xanthan Gum and blend with a whisk.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar well (note that Splenda doesn't "blend" with butter as well - it will be fine once the other ingredients are added).
  3. Add the egg and continue beating.
  4. Add the milk, almond extract, and zest.
  5. Mix in the dry ingredients.
  6. Remove from mixer and mix in the nuts.
  7. Gently fold in the blueberries (try not to break them)
  8. Refrigerate the dough for about 30-40 minutes.
  9. User a spoon or cookie scoop and place on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly (they won't spread much).
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

I used a medium-size cookie scoop and got about two dozen cookies. You could get more if you make a smaller cookie. Enjoy those blueberries while they're here!

See you in a couple of weeks!

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Wheat-free Sugar-free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I make these cookies a lot. Mostly for my wheat-free friends (maybe you've had one?). I'm not much of an Oatmeal Raisin cookie girl, but I actually like them.

I took the recipe from the Stevia website, and made it wheat-free, and changed up a few other ingredients. I made them over and over and over again, tweaking it a little each time, until I think I got it right. Sometimes I got suggestions from wise friends that I incorporated as well. I guess you can say I got obsessed with this recipe. Pretty funny, considering I'd really rather have a chocolate chip cookie.

Oh, and I didn't actually use regular Stevia - I've heard from too many people that it has an aftertaste. Never having baked with any Stevia product before, I tried a product called NuStevia which is not supposed to have the aftertaste. I certainly didn't detect any. I got it here: NuStevia Powder at iHerb.

If you are wheat-free/gluten-free, I'm thinking you will really like this cookie. It's a soft texture (not uncommon for wheat-free cookies), but not quite cake-like. They freeze very well, too.

Wheat-free Sugar-free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen 2" cookies


  • 1/2 cup raisins (packed)
  • 5 oz apple juice
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews or walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Sorghum (or Soy flour)
  • 1/2 cup butter or butter substitute, softened
  • 1 tsp NuStevia
  • 1-2 Tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup Sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup Oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1 - 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • Optional: salted sunflower seeds and pumpkins seeds, golden raisins, chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Parchment paper on your cookie sheet is recommended, or you can grease your cookie sheet.
  1. Place the raisins and apple juice in a small pot and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bow, cream the butter, nuts, and 1/4 cup Sorghum flour.
  3. Add the NuStevia powder, Maple Syrup, Vanilla, a sightly beaten eggs
  4. Cream about 1/3 of the stewed raisins and all of the juice into a blender or processor.
  5. Stir the creamed raisins into the butter mixture. Then add the milk and oats.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, cornstarch, Xanthan Gum, and salt and blend together well (a whisk is a good tool for this).
  7. Stire the flour mix into the butter mixture, and add the rest of the raisins.
  8. Mix until just blended (don't overmix).
  9. To get a consistent size, use a cookie scoop (I used a medium size) and place each on the baking sheet.
  10. Press each down slightly with the palm of your hand to flatten them out a bit.
  11. If you're including the seeds and golden raisins, press them into each cookie
  12. Bake for 11-12 minutes, being careful not to overbake.

Let them cool slightly before eating (if you can :-)

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4th of July Cheesecake

Happy 4th of July and have a safe and fun day!

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The *BEST* Turkey Burger

This is the only really good Turkey Burger recipe I've ever found. It's flavorful and juicy and easy to make. You can grill it (be sure to grease your grill though) or you can pan saute it in a little Canola oil, which is what I did because my Grill is out of propane. I've also cooked it on a George Foreman Grill, which is a handy little tool.

I adapted this recipe from one I found online a while ago. This is for 4 burgers:

Feta Turkey Burgers


  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey Breast
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  1. Preheat Grill or Pan if pan saute
  2. Mix together well the ground turkey, finely chopped mushrooms, finely chopped onion, soy sauce, and 1/4-1/2 cup of Feta
  3. Season with salt and pepper, and form into 4 burger patties
  4. Place patties on grill or in pan, and cook about 10 minutes, then turn over to second side. If you're cooking it in a pan, keep the heat very low. Sprinkle a little additional cheese and cook on second side until done (see note below). The burger will get dark brown.
  5. Serve with your favorite condiments, or as is.

Note: Unlike regular beef burgers, turkey burgers cannot be served 'rare' and must be cooked through thoroughly. Internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees. I recommend purchasing an instant-read thermometer so there is no guess work :-)

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