Zucchini Spice Cupcakes (Gluten and Dairy Free) with Goat Cheese, Lemon and Honey Frosting

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Today was my first official “lazy day” of summer.  For me, that means no client on the schedule and no school or camp for the little one. No long list of errands to run, either!  I suppose there’s people out there that are truly maximizing their “lazy days of summer” and sleeping until noon, lounging by the pool with a good book and/or escaping to a long movie in an over-air-conditioned cinema.  I’ve been there once upon a time and wish I had appreciated and savored those days more!

So, what sort of fun did I manage to whip up for my dear boy today? After feeling guilty for parking him in front of PBS kids while I caught up on laundry, I decided that we would bake together.  I’ve been wanting to refine this recipe for zucchini cupcakes I threw together for a friend’s birthday many months ago.  Those cupcakes were topped with avocado frosting and were delicious. The birthday girl swooned and insisted we call them “spa” cupcakes.  The sugar content in the frosting prohibited any “spa” designation, though. And while I could have done avocado frosting today, I was fresh out of avocados and really didn’t feel like running to the store.

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Baked Mini Coconut Donuts–Gluten, Dairy and Yeast Free

The school’s annual “Dads and Donuts” breakfast was approaching (or so I thought) and this Mommy had big intentions.  I was going to create some amazing allergen-friendly donuts for my son to enjoy with his Daddy.  After occasionally daydreaming about making donuts for my little guy, I finally had the motivation I needed to “just do it”.

And what luck!  While perusing the Halloween aisles at Target, I happened upon this cute mini donut pan.  When I excitedly showed it to my husband and told him about my plan, he grimaced and informed me that the event had taken place that morning–(he hadn’t mentioned it, hoping I wouldn’t make him go, I presume).  In my perpetual state of haste, I had misread the date on the flyer and thought it was going to be the following month.  I felt like the most pathetic parent on the planet when I tried to explain all of this to my sweet boy.  I promised him I would make him whatever kind of donut he wanted over the weekend.  To my delight, he chose coconut. Continue reading

Cherry Chocolate Almond Coconut Oatmeal Bars

Running after-school errands the other day, I decided to dash into World Market to have a look around.  They usually have capers for a good price, so I moseyed over to the food aisles.  Capers were nowhere to be found, so I snagged the next best luxury–a lusty looking bar of dark chocolate studded with almonds and dried cherries, wrapped in bright red paper.  Slipping it into my cart, I told myself I’d save it for a special occasion to share with friends.  Or, if that didn’t transpire then I’d at least savor it bit by bit over the course of a week or so.

The following day, I was busy on the computer all morning and when I went to rifle around for something to eat for lunch, there it was–THE TEMPTER.   All it took was one bite… and rather than letting those little fat and calorie numbers on the wrapper ruin my indulgence, I concentrated on how seriously rich in antioxidants this “meal” was and how the almonds were protein and calcium, the cherries were fruit and a dose of vitamin C, and really, I should do this more often!!

Despite the horrible blood sugar drop later that day, creative inspiration ensued.  I wanted to recreate that same flavor combination, but in the form of a more wholesome treat and make it gluten and dairy-free, so that my son and anyone else with food allergies could enjoy.  There was even an insanely delicious jar of Central Market’s Organic Morello Cherry Jam sitting in my pantry just begging to be showcased in some divine concoction!  The following recipe is what I developed, loosely basing it on Dorie Greenspan‘s recipe for Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars in one of my favorite baking cookbooks, Baking, From My Home to Yours.  These bars are scrumptious!  Just sweet enough, the oat/nut base is the perfect toothsome platform for the tangy cherries and melted chocolate.  The coconut provides additional texture and adds another flavor dimension that is out of this world.  I highly suggest you go make these for someone you love…right now.  GO.

Recipe for Chocolate Cherry Coconut Almond Oatmeal Bars:

yields:  12 rectangular bars                       total cooking time:  40 min.

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