dessert

M&M Cookie Bars

m&m cookie bars | confections of a dietitian

It’s December which means it’s Christmas cookie season! In the past, every Christmas vacation at home meant spending countless hours in the kitchen with my mom, sister and friends baking dozens of different kinds of cookies to send out as gifts. I have so many fun memories from doing this that baking cookies has become one of my favorite things about this time of year. Even though I will be spending Christmas in Oki again this year, baking cookies makes me feel a little closer to home and always puts me in the Christmas spirit. It must be the magical combination of mouth watering smells coming from the oven and Christmas music playing in the background. Since I’m already starting to feel nostalgic about Christmases at home (the sunny, 70 degree weather sure isn’t helping), Christmas cookie baking has begun in our house, which means I get to start sharing some of my favorite recipes, both old and new, with all of you!

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Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

salted caramel apple pie bars | confections of a dietitian
In most places I’ve lived, October brings gold and red trees, crisp nights, cozy scarves and sweaters and lots of apples. Okinawa, on the other hand, is still in summer mode. The highs have dropped a mere two degrees and the “feels like” temperature is still well into the 100’s (122 degrees yesterday, to be exact). My social media accounts and favorite blogs are all abuzz about pumpkin spice this and fall everything else, making me homesick for anything to remind me that it is, indeed, fall. An overcast and rainy day plus an invitation to a get together with friends this past weekend gave me the perfect excuse to bake something to make it feel like the wonderful season it is.

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Nutella Banana Bread

nutella banana bread | confections of a dietitian

Most people have a go to banana bread recipe. That’s probably because most people have had overripe bananas sitting on their counter that they don’t want to go to waste. Our house is no different. I always have bananas in the fruit bowl to eat before my morning runs, grab on my way to work or throw into a smoothie. Plus, I know if I don’t use them in time, I can just put them in the freezer for banana “ice cream” or make banana bread. In my mind, it’s a win, win situation.

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Samoa Cookie Bars

samoa bars | confections of a dietitian

There are a few short weeks in February when Colin and I debate about how many boxes of Girl Scout cookies is a reasonable amount to buy. Sadly, no matter how many boxes that ends up being, they never seem to last long enough. Hence why I’m writing about Girl Scout cookies in July. But, we don’t just argue about how many boxes to buy. We also disagree on which cookie is the best. My favorite has always been Thin Mints. Colin’s favorite are Samoas (or, where I sold Girl Scout cookies, Caramel Delights). I have not always liked Samoas. Actually, I remember avoiding them when I was younger. Most of that dislike came from my dislike of coconut. Now, coconut is a flavor that I am slowly starting to love.  I don’t know if it’s because we live on a tropical island, or if it’s becoming more of a food trend, but it seems like everything comes in coconut flavor here. And, slowly but surely, I find myself ordering the coconut option more and more.

samoa bars | confections of a dietitian

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Key Lime Bars

key lime bars | confections of a dietitian

I love seeing the words “bring a dish to share” on an event invite. Some people may dread them, but I think it’s a perfect excuse to try out a new recipe or bake something I’ve been craving without having to eat all of it. I usually just want one serving, (two if I’m being honest) but not 30. Luckily, I seem to get invited to potluck style events all of the time, so I have a lot of opportunities to try new things. This week, thanks to my daily email from Tasting Table, I had been craving key lime pie. And, as luck would have it, I needed to bring something for a party at Colin’s office.

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Cherry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

cherry oatmeal cookie | confections of a dietitan

One of the things that has been hardest for me to adjust to while living in Okinawa is the inability to get ingredients when I need them. In America, I could go to a grocery store and expect to find everything on my list. If the store didn’t have what I needed, although an inconvenience, I could stop at a different store to get it. In Okinawa, this is not always the case. The on-base grocery store, called a commissary, carries most American products that you could want, but not many specialty ingredients. Sometimes, I can find the items at off-base grocery stores, but due to cultural differences with food and the fact that we are 5,000 miles away from America, this is not always the case. The commissary, and every on-base store, commonly runs out of things (the running joke is that they will never have something in stock when you actually need it) so it is common to see Facebook posts asking where people have found certain ingredients off-base.

cherry oatmeal cookie | confections of a dietitan

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Nutella Cheesecake Bars

Nutella Cheesecake Bars | confections of a dietitian

A few months ago, a coworker of mine requested I bring something with Nutella for a small get together we were having. Not wanting to pass up an excuse to bake, I willingly obliged. There was only one problem. I didn’t have many quick recipes in my repertoire that included this delicious hazelnut, chocolate spread.

It didn’t take much brainstorming for me to become fixated on the idea of Nutella cheesecake bars. I love changing anything from its primary form into a bar, like cookies, pies or cakes, because it’s so much faster. Usually, one type of batter gets dumped into a pan, bakes all at once in the oven and, once it’s done, you can cut it into as many individual servings as you need. It’s the perfect option for baking in a pinch, or in my case, after a long day at work.

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Raspberry Macaroons

raspberry macaroons | confections of a dietitian

I tend to pick new recipes in two ways. 1. I think of something I want to make and research what seems like a thousand different recipes until I find the perfect one 2. I read a recipe, become fixated on it and have to make it immediately. This recipe falls into the latter category. I was doing my usual browsing and brainstorming for our Easter menu when I came across these raspberry coconut macaroons in my weekly email from Smitten Kitchen. I had already decided on a dessert, but I couldn’t get these out of my head. They seemed so quintessentially Easter to me. Little egg-like mounds of white coconut swirled with pinkish purple raspberries. Not to mention that raspberries are my favorite berry. I had to have them.

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