Maple Butternut Cream Cheese Bars

Another no-processed-sugar baking adventure with the 3yo using random ingredients in our kitchen! We had half a cooked butternut squash left over and a bar of cream cheese that had come out of the freezer with a wonky texture (won’t do THAT again!), so cheesecake-swirl-bars it was!

This is adapted from this recipe which in turn came from Our Lady of Baked Goodness, Martha. This version is not so sweet, so if you’re craving sweets, add brown sugar. Also, using maple syrup instead of sugar messes with your liquid ratios, so pay attention to your batter.Photo on 1-18-16 at 10.39 AM


For the batter:

  • 1 stick butter, at room temp
  • 1/4C maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • 1/2C squash or pumpkin puree (I suppose you could use banana, too)
  • 1.5C flour
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/4t salt
  • ‘pumpkin pie’ spices to taste (I used about 1/2t each of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg)

For the swirl:

  • 1/2 pk cream cheese, completely soft (heat a bit if necessary)
  • 1T maple syrup
  • 1 small egg (or half a large one – we fed the remainder to our cat)
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • spices to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350′ and grease a glass pie plate or the equivalent size pan (whatever that is – 8″ square? I dunno)
  • Cream together the butter and maple syrup, then add the egg and vanilla, and mix until totally combined. Add in the squash puree and blend.
  • Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  • Combine wet and dry until mixed completely, but don’t overmix. Batter will be sludgy and thick, but still stirrable.
  • For the swirl, blend together all swirl ingredients. Add a bit more maple syrup if it seems too thick.
  • Spread a thin layer of the batter in the bottom of the pan, and then dollop on the cream cheese mix in a random pattern. Fill in any spaces with dollops of the batter until it’s all in the pan.
  • Carefully and slowly, take a knife and twirl or swirl a design (or whatever) with the cream cheese and the batter, carefully blending. It’ll be sludgy and thick, so go slowly and be thoughtful (or not, it’ll all taste the same). You may want to tap the pan flat on the counter to get the batter to flatten out when you’re done.
  • Bake for 35-40 mins at 350′, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool completely to room temperature before slicing.
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Banana Donuts w/Maple Pecan Glaze

I’m not eating processed sugar right now, but I’m still indulging my sweet tooth (don’t judge) with maple syrup and honey  sweetened things. We had a bit of banana pulp left over in the fridge from the last time we made banana muffins, so we decided to trPhoto on 1-16-16 at 12.03 PM.jpgy donuts today. These came out pretty awesome, and weren’t super difficult.

This recipe makes enough for 6 donuts (we only have one pan) but could be doubled. Pay attention to the wetness of the dough and adjust accordingly.


  • 1C flour
  • 1/2t baking powder
  • 1/4t baking soda
  • 1/8t salt
  • 1/4t each cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (or whatever, to taste)
  • 1/2C mashed banana, finely blended (ours was liquidy from being in the fridge, and worked great)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4C maple syrup (you could use regular sugar here, probably)
  • 1/8C oil (I used olive oil, it’s what we had)
  • 1T yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2t vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease your donut pan.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, mix wet ingredients in another.
  3. Combine wet and dry until completely mixed.
  4. Spoon batter into pan, filling cups not-quite-full.
  5. Bake 12-15 mins, until a toothpick comes out clean
  6. Cool in the pan for 5 mins, then remove and cool on a rack.



While the donuts are baking, in a food processor, blend together:

  • 1/2C pecans
  • 1/8C maple syrup
  • 1T melted butter
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • 1/8C warm water

When the donuts are slightly cooler but not cold, put them on a plate nad spoon the glaze over the top. Eat. Delicious.

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Stupid Easy Orange Cardamom Sticky Buns

Why did it never occur to me to use pre-made pizza dough to make sticky buns? IT’S GENIUS. I first saw it in a Martha Stewart recipe, which this is based on. So, thanks, Martha! This versionIMG_0262.JPG uses honey instead of sugar, but you can use brown sugar in place of honey, and could make icing for the tops instead of the nuts and butter glaze. Either way, these are super flexible and easy, which is what I’m always looking for.




  • 1 package pre-made pizza dough (I used the Portland Pie multigrain, purchased at Hannaford)
  • 1/2C chopped nuts (pistachios, pecans, hazels, whatever)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2T honey (or about 1/2C dark brown sugar)
  • salt
  • cardamom
  • zest from 2 large navel oranges
  • 1/2C orange marmalade



  • Prep:
    • in a food processor, pulse the nuts until coarsely chopped (with brown sugar if you’re using it)
    • zest the two oranges (or more if they’re small)
    • melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the orange zest, honey, a pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter), and cardamom
  • grease an 8″ glass or ceramic pie pan (or something like it), and then drizzle in about a third of the butter mixture and spread it around, then sprinkle with about half the nuts
  • on a floured surface, roll out the pizza dough so it’s a long rectangle-ish (about 12×18″ if you can manage it, but whatever works).
  • spread the marmalade out on the dough, leaving a bit of a border (1″ on the long sides) and then drizzle another third of the butter mix over it all and sprinkle on more nuts
  • roll up the dough in a long roll, and then using a sharp knife, cut into even sized pieces (I got about 8).
  • place the cut rolls in the pan so there’s a bit of space between them (if  possible) and they’re evenly spaced, and drizzle with the last of the butter mix, and sprinkle with any nuts that’re left. Cover with plastic wrap and put them in a warm place to rise for about an hour (I put them in my oven with just the oven light on)
  • when the dough has risen and the rolls are all touching each other, put in the oven at 350′ for about 30-35 mins. Theoretically, you should invert the pan onto a plate immediately, which I did (actually a cookie sheet with parchment) but I bet you can just kinda wedge them out with a spatula. Or eat the whole pan with a fork and call it good.
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The Threenager’s New Favorite Cookie

Based off of this chewy banana-PB cookie recipe.


  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 C Maple Syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 C flour (I used 1C whole wheat, 1C high-gluten bread flour, since that’s what we had)
  • 1/2C choc chips (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF and prep two cookie sheets with parchment paper
  • Mix all wet ingredients until well combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix fully incorporated. Add more flour if it seems too wet.
  • Roll into fairly large balls, place on the cookie sheet, and press flat with a fork.
  • Bake about 10-15 minutes, until the bottoms are slightly brown and the cookies don’t bend when you flip up a corner with a spatula. You want cookies SLIGHTLY underdone – then let them sit on the cookie sheet for another 5-10 mins to set before transferring to a cooling rack.
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New Favorite Tea Cookies: Cranberry Citrus Cornmeal

Because who doesn’t want cookies with their tea? This is adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipe series “Quick Recipe” book. An excellent cookbook investment.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3rds cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (add more for sweeter cookies; I often eliminate this altogether)
  • few tablespoons granulated sugar (for rolling)
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1.5 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp grated orange, lemon, grapefruit zest (from one large fruit, feel free to mix and match)
  • 1 tsp orange extract (if you want extra punch; this could be cut as well)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or other mild veg. oil)


  • Preheat oven to 375′ and set up two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Whisk the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar (leaving out the few T for rolling), baking powder, salt.
  • Add orange zest and whisk to combine, then toss in cranberries and toss with a rubber spatula to combine
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and orange extract
  • Mix the egg mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula, until fully combined and all ingredients are moistened.
  • Roll small balls of dough in your hands and then roll in the extra sugar. Place on the cookie sheet, and then flatten slightly with a fork. They don’t spread much, so you can put them reasonably close together (1.5 inches)
  • Bake about 20 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. After 10 mins, rotate front to back. When out of the oven, leave the cookies on the sheet for a few mins, to set, and then remove to a wire rack to cool.


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Lasagna Soup?

So this recipe from My Salty Kitchen popped up on the local news website. It reminded me a bit of minestrone soup, but looked like easy lasagna. I was intrigued, and moreover, had most of the ingredients, so decided to give it a shot. It is easy to modify to make vegetarian, which mine almost is (I had chicken stock and used that, but veg. stock would be good, too). I also ended up tossing a ball of kale in there (we processed our abundant kale harvest from the summer by blanching it, chopping it, and balling it up, then freezing it on cookie sheets. We’ve been eating a bit of summer all winter long that way…)

So, here’s my version, which makes some alterations:


  • olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 med red onion
  • oregano, rosemary, thyme
  • 1 lg can chopped tomatoes with basil
  • bunch of chopped kale, chard, spinach, etc. (as much as looks good to you)
  • 32oz chicken or veggie stock (I used chicken)
  • 1 sm can tomato paste
  • 1 lg package tortellini (I used most of a ‘family size’ package, the rest went to my voracious toddler)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2C ricotta cheese
  • a few oz. fresh mozerella for garnish (and eating while you cook)


  1. Boil the tortellini in a separate pot of water, drain, toss with a bit of oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.(or you can add them to the soup and simmer for a while, as in the original recipe, but I wanted to save out some of the package and was afraid of them getting soggy).
  2. Mince the onion and garlic and sauté in some olive oil until soft. Toss in the herbs and sauté a bit more.
  3. Add the can of tomatoes, juice and all, and then add the tomato paste. Mix well.
  4. Add in the stock stir to combine. Simmer for a bit to combine flavors.
  5. If adding uncooked tortellini, bring to a low boil, and then add the tortellini and cook. Otherwise just add in the chopped greens and cooked tortellini.
  6. Just before ready to serve, mix in the ricotta cheese, and then garnish the bowls with grated or diced fresh mozz.

So that’s it! Super good! In the original recipe, she suggested making a baked dish out of leftovers, which I may try today.

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Toddler Cookies

Sweet Potato & Cheese Cookies

There are a bunch of versions of these floating around. They are amazing, especially for those of us with picky toddlers. So fast. So easy. So freakin’ versatile. So, so simple. My next version might have chopped ham and scallions in it, and I’m also thinking about adapting these to use as adult type appetizers, with blue cheese, proscuitto and cracked black pepper.  Yes? DELICIOUS.

PB-Banana Cookies

Ingredients: (makes 1.5 dozen)

  • 3-4 mashed ripe bananas
  • 2 C quick oats (or you can make them by pulsing steel cut oats in the cuisinart a few times)
  • 1/2-1C natural PB
  • Cinnamon or spices to taste


  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean up)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350′
  3. Mix oats and spices
  4. Mix banana and oats together until it clumps together well, then add PB.
  5. Blend thoroghly. Adjust the ratio of PB/Banana/Oats to make it form a good dough – it should look like PB or Choc Chip cookie dough in consistency.
  6. Plop by the spoonful or roll into balls and place on sheet. You can put them close together as they don’t spread or rise, so be sure to shape them or flatten them as you’d like them to be.
  7. Bake 20-25 mins or until light golden brown.
  8. Cool on a rack totally before serving to tiny people.

Sweet Potato Cheese Cookies

Ingredients: Makes 1-2 dozen

  • 1-2C mashed sweet potato
  • 2T butter
  • 2 C quick oats (or you can make them by pulsing steel cut oats in the cuisinart a few times)
  • 1/4-1/2C grated parm
  • 1/4-1/2C grated cheddar
  • pinch of salt, to taste


  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean up)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350′
  3. Cook and mash sweet potato, adding butter (or not, as you prefer)
  4. Mix sweet potato and oats together until it clumps together well, then add grated cheese
  5. Blend thoroghly. Adjust the ratio of cheese/sweet potato/oatsto make it form a good dough – it should look like PB or Choc Chip cookie dough in consistency.
  6. Plop by the spoonful or roll into balls and place on sheet. You can put them close together as they don’t spread or rise, so be sure to shape them or flatten them as you’d like them to be.
  7. Bake 20-25 mins or until light golden brown.
  8. Cool on a rack totally before serving to tiny people.
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