Whole Wheat Thin Mint Brownie Bites

30 Mar

Girl Scout cookie season hit you hard? Is your freezer overflowing with Thin Mints and Lemonades? (because we all know they freeze well). But you can’t stand to eat another addictive morsel? Well do I have a recipe for you!

Transform those basic Thin Mints into delectable brownie bites to share with your family, friends, and co-workers. Plus, they’re [sort of] healthy! Whole wheat flour, coconut oil and apple sauce make these better than traditional brownies. And they’re topped with cookies, so there’s that.

Whole Wheat Thin Mint Brownie Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Crispy cookies and perfect brownies


Why bake something that’s already baked? Topping these brownie bites with Thin Mints makes for the best texture combination. The brownies are spongy, moist and chocolatey, supporting an extra-crisp cookie. Too fun to pass up!

Whole Wheat Thin Mint Brownie Bites

Makes 24 brownie bites

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 C sugar-free applesauce
  • 3/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 24 Thin Mints

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 mini cupcake tins with PAM and set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate with butter and coconut oil. Whisk in the eggs, sugar and apple sauce. Mix in the whole wheat flour, baking powder and sea salt.

Scoop batter into prepared mini tins, about 3/4 full. These WILL rise! Top each brownie bite with a Thin Mint.

Whole Wheat Thin Mint Brownie Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Ready for the oven!


Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from the tins. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days. (Who are we kidding, these will disappear as quickly as a box of Caramel DeLites!)

Whole Wheat Thin Mint Brownie Bites | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

On Tour: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

23 Mar

Up until 4 years ago, I was completely unhealthy. I was very overweight, never exercised, and ate large portions of mostly bad-for-me foods – meat included. My life was turned around with Zumba. I simultaneously took it upon myself to learn what makes up a healthy diet and began experimenting with new foods and new ways of preparing meals – healthier ways. Over time, I even became a vegetarian. In fact, it’s been about 14 months now since I’ve had meat of any kind.

Sounds restrictive to some, but it’s proven to be quite the opposite. The challenge of eliminating meat in my cooking meant I had to learn how best to maximize the flavor of vegetables, grains, beans and dairy (yeah, I’m a Wisconsin girl…cheese runs in my blood). I learned how to prepare dishes of all sorts of foreign cuisines. I tried vegetables I’d never even heard of before. I learned how to bake delicious sweets with healthier ingredients, without sacrificing taste or texture. And most importantly, I learned what true FLAVOR is.

How to pair ingredients. Which type of spices go best with different dishes. How to combine seemingly disparate items into a cohesive, delicious meal. All of this has to do with flavor. For without flavor, what’s the point?

Which brings me to The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg. Karen and Andrew invited me to be a “stop” on their virtual book tour. Looking for a review, I happily accepted. How can you go wrong with a book about flavor & vegetables?!

On Tour: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

This is a “bible” in the sense that it’s an informative reference work – more than 500 pages of history, quotes, flavor profiles & pairings, gorgeous pictures and scientific studies make up this book. It is in no way a cookbook in the traditional sense of the word – there’s not one recipe in here. Which I LOVE.

“Vegetarian flavor matchmaking” – the pages upon pages of ingredients and their complete profiles, aim solely to inspire. Want to make something with rice for dinner? Flip to the “R” section, thumb over to “rice” and let your mind run wild with all the suggestions offered up. Have a bunch of fresh dill that you need to use up? Pair it with cabbage, feta cheese and mint for a refreshing summer salad. Looking to impress dinner guests with Ethiopian cuisine? This book has you covered!

I sometimes like to play the guessing game when buying produce: purchase an ingredient I’ve never used before and/or have never heard of. And then cook with it! This is how I came to enjoy jicama, pomegranate, and Brussels sprouts. And with this book…well, the options are truly limitless!

I wish I’d had this book when I started my journey to a healthier lifestyle. It certainly would’ve made cooking for myself less daunting and more interesting. Heck, I would’ve learned much sooner that blueberries and eggs DO NOT go together. But that was all part of the fun, I suppose.

Still scared of expanding your flavor palate in the kitchen? Start slow…upgrade a recipe you already make frequently with a new flavor profile added in. Take some risks, experiment, and learn what your taste buds have been missing out on! I did just that for dinner yesterday: took a recipe I know and love, and upgraded its flavor. Instead of diced canned green chiles in my homemade black bean enchiladas, I used fresh jalapeno pepper. And for my homemade red enchilada sauce, I pureed in some chipotle peppers with their adobo sauce. The result: a new spin on an old classic. The freshness of the filling was enhanced and the red sauce had a spicy, smoky quality to it, with a slight burn that grew with each bite (expertly paired with a Dos Equis by my boyfriend).

Are you sold yet? This bible belongs in everyone’s kitchen – vegetarian or otherwise. Let’s recap all the great things found within its pages. This book…

  • boasts flavors from around the world – you never have to leave your kitchen to experience the culinary cultures of any and all countries.
  • is adorned with vibrant photos that make you drool for beets, squashes and even eggplant.
  • takes you through a rich history of vegetarianism and veganism, dating back all the way to the beginning of time – makes you stop and think about America’s food choices in the past few centuries.
  • acts secondarily as a vegetarian restaurant guide – all the major cities have upscale and down-home veg menus and they’re all brought to light in this one book! Foodie road trip, anyone?
  • doesn’t judge, but aims solely to inform, inspire, and empower cooks of all kinds & levels.
  • has inspired my own cooking & flavor pairings. Who knew that cilantro + almonds + garlic + olive oil = delicious?
  • demonstrates that flavor should prevail in all dishes – vegetables don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) boring.
  • can aid beginners and experts in creating the most flavorful dishes yet.

Thanks to Karen and Andrew for stopping by my blog on this virtual book tour! Best of luck to you on this book and your future works!

Jalapeno Garlic Hummus Biscuits {Vegan, Whole Wheat}

22 Mar

I’m a HUGE fan of leftovers. Sometimes, the flavors of a dish intensify over a day or two. Sometimes you have no chance to cook and require a quick homemade meal. And sometimes you just want to be lazy, which means leftovers are perfect.

But they can also become boring. Eating the same thing for four days gets pretty old. Which is why it’s imperative to learn how to transform leftovers into something else amazing! This month’s Recipe Redux theme is “Two for One” – using one recipe that can be used to make a second dish. What’s more: we were tasked with creating a second dish out of one that’s already posted on the blog!

Digging through my archives, I stopped at the Jalapeno Garlic Hummus I shared in January. It’s full of fresh, bright flavors, is creamy enough to act as a dip or a spread, and comes together in just minutes. I’d hardly call it cooking at all! But I would call it a perfect base for another recipe.

So the challenge: how do you take a well-known snack dip and transform it into something else? Well, you add flour and bake it, of course! Yep, I turned my hummus into biscuits. Vegan, whole wheat biscuits with very little fat added. Which is rare – most biscuit recipes call for 1/4 – 1/2 cup of butter. This one? Just ONE TABLESPOON of fat. And that’s just to make them golden brown in the oven!

Jalapeño Garlic Hummus Biscuits | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Yeah, I’d say this is pretty genius. I’m a genius. Ok, that might be a stretch – but making these biscuits for your family will be a very genius idea. And if you want to get meta: serve them with some of the fresh hummus on the side!

Jalapeño Garlic Hummus Biscuits | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Jalapeño Garlic Hummus Biscuits {Vegan, Whole Wheat}
Makes 8 biscuits

  • 2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 C + 1 tbsp Jalapeno Garlic Hummus
  • 3/4 C plain soy milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat, or parchment paper.

If you haven’t made the hummus already, now’s the time to do that.

Jalapeño Garlic Hummus | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Mix well.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the hummus, being careful not to overmix. Stir in the milk next.

Lightly flour your workspace and turn out the dough into a pile. Flatten into a square, about 1″ thick. Do NOT use a rolling pin! Fold over itself once, flatten again, turn 90 degrees and fold over a second time, flattening yet again. Finally, press the dough out into a nice 1″ thick square. This process will give the biscuits a layered, fluffy quality.

Cut out the biscuits with a biscuit cutter, a round cookie cutter, or even a glass that has a large enough opening. Tip: press the cutter down, and turn once. Do nothing else – pick them up with your hands and place the biscuits on the cookie sheet, making sure that they DO touch each other.

Re-form the dough and repeat the process until all the dough is used up – you should be able to make 8 biscuits.

Brush a bit of olive oil on the tops of the biscuits, which will make them golden brown.

Bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately — either on their own, sliced open to make a sandwich, or paired with soup.

Let any remaining biscuits cool completely and store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Jalapeño Garlic Hummus Biscuits | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 

Cheesy Tomato Beer Pasta Bake

19 Mar

Cooking can be incredibly messy. Never wear black when you’re baking. Don’t start peeling potatoes after you’ve gotten a manicure. And don’t blend a large quantity of liquid…in a small food processor.

I’m usually not terribly messy in the kitchen, but this time was different. I mistakenly used the food processor when I should have broken out the blender. Why? Because when you put a bunch of liquid (including beer!) in the processor, it tends to leak. And eventually pour out over the sides. Luckily, nothing exploded in my face, and I salvaged about 99% of the sauce in this recipe to finish off the dish. Which is delicious!

This super easy meal comes together very quickly. Throw some UNcooked pasta into a dish, top it with some sauteed veggies, and blend up a tasty, beer- and cheese-filled sauce that does all the work for you. This can even be prepared ahead! Simply bake now, and then broil when you’re ready to eat it. Perfect for an after-gym dinner….with a glass of wine.

Cheesy Tomato Beer Pasta Bake | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Everything’s better with cheddar!


Cheesy Tomato Beer Pasta Bake, adapted from The Beeroness
Serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 12 oz whole wheat penne pasta (or any shape you might have)
  • 1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bottle wheat beer
  • 1/2 C plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 C water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 C shredded mozzarella
  • 2 oz of fresh Parmesan or white cheddar

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 2-qt or 8×8 baking dish with PAM. Layer the uncooked pasta in the bottom and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high and saute onion and pepper until cooked, about 8 minutes. You can use any veggies you wish! Mushrooms, squash, even eggplant would work.

In a blender (do NOT use a food processor!), add crushed tomatoes, beer, yogurt, water, mozzarella and spices. Blend until it’s pureed.

Spread cooked veggies over the dry pasta. Carefully pour the blended sauce on top, being sure to cover all the noodles. Grate about 2 oz of fresh Parmesan or white cheddar on top.

Cover with foil (tip: spray the underside of the foil with PAM to avoid cheese from sticking to it!). Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes.

Remove from oven and take off the foil. Turn the heat up to broil, and let the cheese get nice and brown in the broiler for 3-5 minutes.

Remove and let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Cheesy Tomato Beer Pasta Bake | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Look at that cheesy goodness! All golden brown and perfect.


Cheesy Tomato Beer Pasta Bake | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Mmmmm so tasty


ChocolaTEA Mini Muffins

22 Feb

This month’s Recipe Redux challenge is “Favorite Chocolate Matches.” What’s better for an afternoon pick-me-up than a bit of dark chocolate and a hot cup of tea? That’s a normal snack for me – the combination of minimal sugar + antioxidants + vitamin C + warm, soothing liquid is just the hit I need for an energy boost. It’s a great pairing on its own, but I wanted to take it one step further: why not combine the two into a healthy, oat-filled muffin? And make them mini??

ChocolaTEA Mini Muffins | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Yep, that’s exactly what brought me to this recipe. Into a hearty oatmeal base of a batter, I mixed rosehip-hibiscus tea leaves and chocolate chips. Paired with the healthy fats of eggs and coconut oil, the protein of Greek yogurt, and the gluten free happiness, you just can’t go wrong! They’re slightly sweet, super adorable, and full of all the good stuff — and none of the guilt!

These are basically Vitamin C antioxidant fiber bombs. They’re just too good to be true…until you make them yourself :) Share them with friends, co-workers, or eat three for a quick breakfast.

Get creative and use any kind of tea you like! Fruity, herbal, even green tea would work well in these. The possibilities are endless.

ChocolaTEA Mini Muffins | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

ChocolaTEA Mini Muffins, adapted from Mother Earth Living
Makes 24-27 mini muffins, or 12 normal ones

  • 2 C ground oats (use gluten free oats if necessary)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 bags of rosehip-hibiscus tea
  • 1 packet powdered stevia
  • 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 C maple syrup or honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or coconut butter, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C plain nonfat Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350. Line mini muffin tins with mini muffin papers (polka dots are so cute!)

Grind a bunch of oats in a food processor, then measure out 2 cups into a large bowl. Whisk in all the dry ingredients – baking powder through chocolate chips.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the water, syrup, eggs, melted oil and vanilla. Whisk this into the dry ingredients.

Now mix in the Greek yogurt.

Scoop batter into lined muffin tins – fill them to the top, as these don’t rise too much.

Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.

Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tins to cool completely. Note: the papers will stick until they are 100% cooled.

Store in an airtight container on the counter for two days, or a little longer in the fridge. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee, and revel in all the health benefits within!

ChocolaTEA Mini Muffins | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 


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