Dark Chocolate Cookies with Black Beans

Dark Chocolate Cookies with Black Beans Dark Chocolate Cookies with Black Beans

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Are you making something special for Valentine’s Day?

How about this Dark Chocolate cookies with black beans?

This is a post by my guest blogger, Michela Vega from www.Strivingbean.com.  She’s a Blogger, mom, and web professional, who will help you incorporate beans into your child’s diet.  I’m very impressed by what she does, so I begged her to share some of her creation with you all — Dark Chocolate Cookies with Black Beans, perfect timing for Valentine’s Day.

I’m planning to make it tomorrow, and bring to our ski trip on Sunday.  Very curious how a chocolate cookies with black beans turn out.  They looks and sounds yummy.

I wonder if this may be good as filling in the Aebleskivers…  Another thing to try!

So, here’s her post… Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cookies with Black Beans Recipe by Striving Bean

I had a need (yes a real need) for chocolate the other day, so I made a batch of Dark Chocolate Cookies.  This recipe is a perfect for a chocolate fix – just in time for Valentines Day!  They don’t have the typical amount of fat and sugar in many cookie recipes.  The secret ingredient?  One 15oz. can of black beans. Make your little sweeties (or your big sweetie) a batch.  And if you don’t have a sweetie – make yourself a batch.  It’s his/her loss!

Here are the cookie highlights:

  • A light texture – this is likely due to the gluten free white rice flour.
  • Not overly sweet.  However feel free to adjust the sugar content to your liking.
  • This cookie recipe appears to be gluten free.  I’m not a gluten free baker, so please be sure to check the ingredients for your needs.
  • Easily made vegan.

Dark Chocolate Cookies
Recipe by Striving Bean

Makes 3 dozen (36) cookies
Store these in the refrigerator since they contain beans.

One  15 oz. can of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed well
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk (I used soy milk, but you can also try 1% milk)
1 cup canned pumpkin

2 cups white rice flour  (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free White Rice flour)
3/4 teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) salt

1/2 cup (0.5 cup) of sugar (optional – some additional Tablespoons of sugar for sprinkling on top)
1/4 cup (0.25 cup) brown sugar (firmly packed)
3 Tablespoons Smart Balance Buttery Spread, melted (I used Smart Balance, but you could try butter or Earth Balance)
1/2 cup (0.5 cup) unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup bittersweet (or dark chocolate) chocolate chips [plus optional additional 1/3 cup (0.33 cup) for topping – I highly recommend]

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Mix beans in food processor with soy milk, until fairly smooth.

pureed beans and soy milk Pureed Beans and Soy Milk 

3.  Remove bean mixture from food processor, and place in bowl. Add 1 cup canned pumpkin and mix well (can do this in food processor if needed).

4. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients: rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.  (It’s important to mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, so the baking soda & baking powder can be evenly distributed.  This helps the cookies rise)

5. Cream sugars and melted Smart Balance. Add applesauce and vanilla extract.  Gently mix together.

6.  Add black bean puree and cocoa powder to sugar mixture. Gently mix together.

7.  Fold in dry ingredients into the chocolate/sugar/black bean mixture.  Add 1 cup dark chocolate chips. It is easier if you add small portions of dry ingredients and dark chocolate chips a bit at a time.  Mix until just incorporated.

8.  Drop a large spoonful per cookie on parchment lined baking sheets.  Press 2 additional dark chocolate chips on top of each cookie. (optional, but recommended)

9. Sprinkle additional sugar on top (optional)

10. Bake at 375 F for about 9 to 11 minutes.  Cool 5 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to cooking rack with a spatula.  Cool completely on rack.


Chef’s Notes

  • Bittersweet (dark) chocolate chips are very key to this recipe. I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips.    Dark chocolate heightens chocolate flavor more than milk chocolate chips.
  • This cookie recipe can easily be made vegan by using vegan dark chocolate chips and Earth Balance Naturally Buttery Spread (I did not test, but it seems like it should work fine)
  • I used a lower sodium canned black bean.  If you choose to use regular canned black beans, you may want to skip the 1/4 teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) salt.
  • Since you’ll be storing these cookies in fridge, warm in microwave 7 seconds on high.  If storing in freezer, warm in microwave 15 seconds on high.
  • If you choose to use all-purpose flour (since some readers may not have access to white rice flour), my best guess is the texture will not be as delicate.  But I think it’s still worth to experiment with all-purpose flour.
  • If you are not using canned black beans, 1 and 2/3 cups  (1.66 cups) cooked beans is the same amount as a 15 oz can.
  • I stored extra cookies in the freezer by wrapping individually, then placing in a freezer safe container.

Our family weighs in:

  • Son loved them – he even knew about the beans.
  • Daughter really loved them and asked for one in her lunch.  This surprised me since she knew about the beans.
  • Husband liked them, but thought they could use more sugar.
  • I love the intense chocolate taste.
Plated Cookies 
Thank you for the great post, Striving Bean!
So… will you make them? 

Finally… Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver Giveaway Details

Do you want Aunt Else Aebleskiver Starter Kit?  The pan, the handle hot pad, the turner, and the mix?  Everything you need (except for egg & water) to make delicious Skivers at your home?

Then you are in the right place!


Come to a Special Aebleskiver Call with Chad Gillard, President of Aunt Else’s on February 18th, 2010 at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT .

Chad will answer your Aebleskiver questions, and you will learn a lot about this fun and delicious food. Plus sometime during the call, we pick a winner from those who attended the call.

NOTE: This giveaway offer is good for US and Canadian residents only.  Anyone is welcome to join our call.

Please sign up from this link to get the phone number. http://eepurl.com/hSaQ
You’ll get the number & passcode right away via email.  We need to have everyone go through here,  so that we can pick the winner for the starter kit giveaway from this list and announce during the call.

  • Be sure to check mark “Aebleskiver Giveaway” at the bottom.

Do you want to increase the chance of winning?  Here’s how!

1. Become a Kitchen Wizard fan on Facebook. If you sign up your friends and tell me who they are, you get extra points.  Also subscribing to the Kitchen Wizard newsletter and/or blog subscription via email (From the side bar under these red pots) is 1 point each.

2. Become an Aunt Else fan. 1 point each at Facebook, Twitter and Foodbuzz page.  (put links)  By the way, this will give you 10% discount on all purchase from AuntElse.com and auntelse.foodzie.com.  Use “KitchenWizard” as the discount code on either site.

3. Send us questions you want me to ask to Chad during the call in the comment box. If you come up with more than one, break them up, so that everyone has a fair chance of asking questions.  Each comment count as one.  Also the comments you’ve already left on my previous Aebleskiver related posts counts too.  Obviously, we’d rather have someone who’d love the pan and use it to win!

If you want to go back to add comments to increase the chance of winning, here are the links.

4. Come to the call. We pick the winner based on these comments and fan activities, and announce the winner on the call.  NOTE: Just like these raffles at the church, you need to be present when your name is called! Otherwise, it goes to the next person in line.

5. Extra benefit to be on the call… Our generous Skiver Santa agreed to offer some Special gifts to those who attends the call, so be sure to stay on the entire call to find out the details.

Some of you might be thinking…

“What shall I do, if I really really want the kit, I’ve left many comments, but I cannot be on the call…”

OK… If that’s the case…  you are allowed to have your representative on the call, as long as you let me know in advance who’ll be on the call for you (as a comment for this post).  To be fair to everyone, one cannot be more than one person.  If someone agrees to represent you, s/he cannot represent themselves.    Please make sure that person signs up with their name as well, so that we can send him/her reminders for the call.

So what would you like to ask about Aebleskivers? Leave your questions in the comment box below.

Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver Pan and Mix Review & Starter-Kit Give Away


Thank you so much for your comments on what do you think the pan is for, and what would you fill in these…
I was amazed by your creativity, and all the possibilities the pan offers.  Your answers certainly made me (and many others) very hungry… 

The answer is….  As quite a few of you guessed, Aebleskiver pan!   

You may ask “What is Aebleskiver?”  Aebleskiver are Danish round pancakes that are often eaten before Christmas. (<- Click here for Wikipedia definition of Aebleskiver.) 

As some of you may remember from my post of FoodBuzz Blogger Festival in November, the guy in the red outfit, living somewhere very cold up North sent the pan and mix around Thanksgiving as early Christmas presents.  This is one of the perks as a Featured Publisher at FoodBuzz.  I get to try many cool things and restaurants and write about it. 

This is my Skiver Santa, Chad Gillard from Aunt Else’s in Minnesota.  


I’ve been having fun with this every weekend, which I call Skiver Saturday or Skiver Sunday.  The best part is, these Aebleskivers are great not only for traditional apple slices, but with almost anything.  As you know, I love varieties and experimenting!  That’s why you may have already seen a few photos of them with many different things on top on Facebook, etc.  I never get bored.  And now I have even more ideas, thanks to you, I will be able to have fun with it for a very very long time! 

When I’m at home, these are the things I gather on typical weekend.   

Gorgonzola cheese, cheddar, chicken, sliced turkey, shrimp, cramberry apple batter, sauteed mirepoix and sauteed leeks. And of course one each of apple, banana and nutella.   


When we tried this first at our friends over Thanksgiving, I didn’t want to bother our friends with their computer password, I wanted to try so bad, I didn’t watch the video on AuntElse Website, they stuck really badly, and some of the got burnt as well.  Since then, My Skiver Santa has given me a pointer from the Northern land, so I now heat the pan for 10-15 min at low-medium heat as soon as I wake up.    

As soon as we pour the batter, it puffs up pretty quickly, so I put all these fun and different fillings in each well. Can you tell I pefer savory food to sweets, and lots of varieties?   


The trick is to:   

1. Season the pan well in advance, and use enough oil.   

2. Heat the pan at medium low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until hot. (Set the timer and prepare the filling during that time. If you still have time, watch the video one more time, and learn how to turn.)   

3. Aunt Else mix puffs up a lot quickly.  I recommend pouring about 2 TBS batter in each well, starting from the four corners, then middle four, and the very center well at the end.   

4. After adding the filling, if it doesn’t come up to the rim, add a little more. (The amount on the photo is a bit on the generous side, especially on the top row.  In my opinion,i t’s easier to turn if there’s no batter going outside of the well.)   

5. For perfectly round skivers, do the quarter turns as in the video. If you try to flip the entire thing 180 degrees, you’ll end up with half dome shaped skivers. : (   

It’s really important to pull the skivers UP 90 degrees, then they release itself like a magic!   Before I was trying to separate the balls from the wall, and that made them stick toghether more.  Every minutes or so, I pull them up another 90 degrees, and when you are finished with all four turns, you will have a perfectly round Aebleskivers!   


Just like these!   


Look at all these different fillings!  So much fun!   


Our favorites were:   

  • Trader Joe’s Cranberry Apple Butter 
  • Gruyere Cheese 
  • Apple slices  
  • Caramelized onion and gruyere cheese (Like French Onion soup) 

Sounds strange but defintely my favorite:   

  • Green onions, drops of Kikkoman soy sauce, and gruyere as filling, home-made mayonnaise on top (below).  I also tried Japanese takoyaki or okonomiyaki style with green onion and cabbage mixed into batter (I made more traditional Japanese style batter for this instead of AuntElse’s Aebleskiver mix for this) with seafood etc in it.  That was quite delicious as well. 

Aebleskivers are very similar to pancakes or crepes, so you can fill with anything you’d wrap with your crepes.  With so many options, this can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert.  I told you, I love things that can be flexible and optimized.  I like the fact that you can have so much fun making it too.  This definitely passed my test!  Next time, I’ll try sauteed mushrooms, seafood with cream sauce etc. (Use leftovers, since you need so little.)  My husband thought I’m weird, but I’m contemplating using a meatball or quail egg as well.  You know, just like a Scotch Egg!  Will see.   

In terms of savory or sweet question, I found Aunt Else’s mix very versatile, it works for both…  just like a good crepe batter!  You can certainly add more sugar or salt if that’s what you prefer, but I found it just right.  

If you like it sweet, my guess is Japanese anko — sweet red bean paste will be great in Aebleskiver.  We have similar street snacks called Tai-yaki (Tai Snapper shaped pancake sandwich with anko in it) and Dora-yaki (two round pancakes filled with anko), and Imagawa-yaki (Flattened version of Aebleskiver?)  Click each link to see the photos to see the difference.   


For 2 of us, we just do one batch (1/2 of the amount of the smallest batch measurement on the back of the bag), and that’s plenty for brunch.  All you need per batch is one egg, 1 cup of water, and a scant cup of Aunt Else’s mix, which is made of organic whole wheat flour.  Even though you don’t have to whip up the egg white like some other Aebleskiver mix, it’s perfectly fluff.  It works great for both savory and sweet fillings.  It’s really fun activity especially with kids (of all ages).   

So in our household, Saturdays and Sundays are Skiver Days!     

Can I tell you a funny story about this?  

In my determination to not to break that new tradition, and my desire to share this fun activity with our niece and nephew, I even dragged that heavy cast iron Aebleskiver pan from the Bay Area to Milwaukee for our Christmas visit.  The problem is, the suitcase that had our pan in it decided to spend some time in warmer climate, and ended up in El Paso, TX.  The good news is, after spending 2 days of us worrying about the whereabouts of my favorite new toy/kitchen tool, our luggage was found at the snowing, fridged door steps of my in-laws. (Geez, guys!   It has something very VALUABLE!)  Well, this is surburban Milwaukee, not Oakland, CA.  Fridged means there’s no one hanging out to steal it.  Plus, these people are very friendly and nice, they often don’t even lock their door!   

Anyway, I found this note in our luggage… and the box we had the skiver pan was opened, and searched… These curious inspectors might have even made a few batches of Aebleskivers…  Who knows?  Well, it was the same day (Christmas day) when they had the fire scare in the plane, so I consider it a good thing.   


When we were in Milwaukee, we only tried some apples, pears, bananas with powdered sugar, apple sauce, and some cranberry sauce. Everyone loved them, kids, grandparents and adults.  I guess they realized that I too could make some sweet, more traditional dishes. (I am known to suggest something “weird” like new vegetables, flavors, or spices (Japanese food anyone?) to cook during our holiday visits in my attempt to add variety to casseroles — their kind of Christmas meals.)  

Thank you, my Skiver Santa, Chad Gillard from Aunt Else’s!  With this, everyday (OK, weekend) is like Christmas! 

Oh…  Our generous Skiver Santa wants YOU to have fun with your own Skiver set.  One lucky reader will get an Aunt Else Aebleskiver Starter Kit (both pan and the mix)!    

He also want you to learn more about Aebleskivers and ask questions.  So I am hosting a phone interview with Chad Gillard (aka Skiver Santa), the President of Aunt Else’s Aebleskivers and you are invited!  Don’t miss this unique opportunity. Invite your friends and family too.

All the details will be posted next week, including how to increase the chance of winning. (Wouldn’t you be most curious about this?  I would!)  Make sure to subscribe to Secrets of the Kitchen Wizard by email (sidebar, scroll down just a bit), so that you will be the first one to know.

 In the mean time, please write to our “Skiver Santa” at C.O.mment Box of this post about:

1. What you may want to do with the Skiver Starter Kit? 

2. Why you should be the one to win the kit? 

Again, one comment counts as one point.  Come up as many ideas and keep posting comments. You are welcome to go back to these 2 posts about  1. Aebleskiver pan , and 2. filling, and post more ideas.  

Santa is watching….

Good luck and have a great weekend! 



The World’s Easiest Cranberry Relish Your Family & Guest Will Love

One of the (very few) dishes my husband taught me is a Thanksgiving side-dish recipe that has been handed down from his grandma Henrietta.  She passed long before we got married, soInever had the honor of meeting her nor eating her dishes.  However, her husband – Keith’s grandpa – Park who lived till 101 told me how great of a baker Hanky (that’s what he called her) was, and excruciating details of her German cakes which he missed dearly.

This is actually a very simple cranberry relish recipe using a box of jello, yet the power of this should not be underestimated. It is very refreshing, and can double as a dessert. Both children and adults love it alike.  On top of that, it’s healthy — it has a lot of fruits such as apples, pears and oranges, in addition to cranberries, and doesn’t require cooking – I can say this is highly optimized. And it’s bright red, it’s festive and surely adds color to the table. If you have a food processor, it’s super easy.  It requires all familiar ingredients that are really cheap! Probably the most exotic and expensive ingredient is cranberries.

Whenever we make it, people always ask for the recipe and nowadays it became so famous, we get Thanksgiving invitations with the requests for this.

So I decided to post the recipe on my blog. My husband first resisted — “Nooo! It’s MY family’s secret recipe!”.  But those who eat it always ask for this recipe! And I grew up in Japan where’s there’s no traditional Thanksgiving celebration, I needed this for my readers!  So I asked “Wouldn’t it be great if your grandma’s recipe is enjoyed by more people in the world, not just by your immediate family?”

So here it is.  Kitchen Wizard is revealing another cooking secret, this one from her extended family.

Grammy Hanky’s Cranberry Relish


  • 1 Small box of red jello (we like raspberry. Strawberry is a bit too sweet.)
  • 1 cup hot water (Do not add the second of batch of water, which is suggested on the box.)
  • 1 bag cranberries
  • 2 large oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 2 large apples, cored and cut in bite size pieces
  • 2 large pears (should be relatively firm), cored and cut into bite size pieces


  1. Mix jello with hot water to dissolve. Put bit-size pieces of fruit in the food processor and pulse several times to grind roughly to about 1/4″ cubes or smaller.  Make sure the cranberries are ground up well — if they are not, it could be tart.  Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to do it in two batches.
  2. When the jello is room temperature, add all the fruit including its juice. Mix well.  Chill in the refrigerator until set. (Because of the amount of fruit, it may not set completely.)

We love serving it with turkey in place of regular cranberry sauce or relish, or you can eat it as dessert as well, with or without whipped cream. We normally make a double batch, using the large jello box, and using 1/2 – 2/3 for the actual Thanksgiving, and save the rest for us to eat later.

Oh, this is also great when you are sick! When I had flu and pneumonia 2 months ago and didn’t want to eat, I asked my husband to make this, and I ate it everyday.

So there you have it.  Try it and leave me a comment on how you and your guests loved it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Food Rescue 911: Apple Preserve


Do you have less than perfect apples at home?  Just like the one on the right, a bit wrinkly and looking sad that they havebeen ignored?

Give them a second chance!  There is an easy way.

My apples were actually looking even sadder than the one on the photo — probably the wrinkles were much more visible.

And here’s how they look now.  Happy, sweet and full of life, and everyone’s friend.  Who’s to know that they were once neglected and were about to be dumped. It was a very quick turn-around.

Apple preserve

Apple preserve

Apple Preserve


  • Apples,  2
  • Lemon juice
  • Sugar, 1/4 – 1/2 c (depending on how sweet the apples are to start with)


  1. Core apples and cut into wedges.  Drizzle with lemon juice to prevent from oxidization and toss. Slice them thin and place them in a microwavable container.  Add sugar, toss gently and let it stand for 3-5 min.
  2. Cook on high in microwave for 5 minutes.  Toss gently and cook another 5 min. Repeat until the apples are cooked and translucent. (Should take total of 15 min or so.)  Let it cool.  Mash with wooden spoon if you like more jammy consistency.

Note: You can make this on stove top, yet it’ll take longer and you’ll have to watch and keep stirring it.

They are great on toast, top with yogurt, pancakes, crepes…  They are super easy, so try it, and leave us a comment on  what did you make with it!

Apple preserve with yogurt

Apple preserve with yogurt

Fast & Fabulous Green Tea Ice Cream (Without Icecream Maker)


Green tea ice cream

As it gets warmer, we start thinking about something cold… One thing everyone seem to love is green tea ice cream!

Just like California rolls, it’s invented in the kitchen of a Japanese restaurant in the US, and imported back to Japan.   The first taste of this for me was in the US.  I loved it, even though I wasn’t a big fan of matcha (green tea powder) because its bitterness… When mixed with sweet richness of ice cream, the freshness of matcha shines and creates a really nice harmony, without any trace of bitterness. Ingenious invention!

The challenge is, a good green tea ice cream is hard to find. Maybe at a Japanese restaurant, but wouldn’t you want to eat it at home too? Maybe after non-Japanese dinner?

Did you know you can make ice cream in the food processor at home, without an ice cream maker, nor the painful effort of digging up that partially frozen ice cream every hour for 10 times? It’s super easy and tasty – and cheaper too!

All you need to do is to swirl cream, eggs, and sugar first in your food processor.  When it’s partially frozen, swirl it again, and freeze it. That’s it.

The beauty of making ice cream at home is that you can control what goes in to the ice cream, not just the quality but also change the amount of sugar and flavorings to suit your taste. You can also control the quantity, so that you can always eat freshly made ice cream.  It helps with your portion control too! No more half gallon container of ice cream that takes up half of the freezer for several months with lots of ice crystals inside.

So here is fast and fabulous food processor ice cream recipe. You can also experiment with vanilla, chocolate, etc.

Swirl the green tea and cream mix in food processor


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3-4 TBS sugar
  • 2 TBS green tea powder (Matcha), mixed with a little bit of water to form smooth paste.  For the best results, use easy mix kind, you can add the powder directly into the cream without any water.  Do not substitute with regular green tea or powdered green tea for this. It’s a lot weaker, it won’t work in ice cream.
  • 1 1/4 c heavy cream (chilled, but not whipped)


  1. Combine first 3 ingredients and swirl it in food processor for 4-5 seconds.
  2. Add cold heavy cream, and swirl it again for another 4-5 seconds.
  3. Put it in a shallow metal pan (freezes faster), and freeze it about 3 hours until almost frozen.
  4. Put the ice cream back in the food processor and process it again until it’s creamy and consistency of soft ice cream.
  5. Put it back in the metal pan and freeze. When it’s frozen, this delicious ice cream is ready to eat!

Try it this Saturday…  If you start in the morning, it should be ready to eat by the afternoon.

You can certainly impress your family and friends with this green tea ice cream!

Ultimate Leftover Makeover recipe: Second-Life Bread Pudding with Fruit

Second Life Bread Pudding and Fruit

Second Life Bread Pudding and Fruit


So what do you do with the leftover egg mixture after making that French toast?

Throw it away, you may say.  But what if I say you can easily make a dessert out of it, by adding an extra cup of milk.

You can make a delicious bread pudding out of it!  You can even save some French bread and use that in it.  One effort, two different recipes.  Ultimate cooking optimization!  Gotta love it! (Or is it just me?)

I’m assuming you have already made some Freezable French Toast, and have about a cup of egg mixture left.  You don’t?  No worries!  You can still make this recipe from scratch, following the instructions underlined below. (Or you can choose to make both at once, starting from the French toast recipe, and freeze it all.)  This amount should be enough for a family of 4 for a little dessert after dinner.

Second-life Bread Pudding with fruit

  1. Add 1 cup milk and 1 TBS melted butter into leftover egg mixture from Freezable French Toast. (You should have about 2/3 – 1 cup left).  Alternatively, mix 2 beaten eggs, 2 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 TBS melted butter and cinnamon in a bowl if you are starting from scratch.
  2. Add peeled, grated and drained apple and 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit and/or raisins into the egg mixture.
  3. Break white bread into bite-size pieces and place them in a buttered 5 to 6” baking dish or individual ramekins. (Remove the crust if it’s very thick) Pour the egg mixture and let it soak completely.  Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top.
  4. Place the baking dish into a larger baking pan, and pour hot water into the outer pan to about half of the height of the pudding.  Bake in a 375-400F oven until set, and top is golden brown.  Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, or without.

Optional: Omit apples/raisins/dried fruit if you don’t have any.  Or use melted bitter or semi-sweet chocolate instead.

Batch and Fridge: Whipped Up Sweet Potato Pudding

Sweet Potato Pudding

Sweet Potato Pudding

Would you like a dessert recipe for weeknight that you can whip up in about 20 minutes while you are eating dinner or doing dishes, largely unattended?

I thought so.  Especially if you can use some pre-cooked left over ingredient from dinner. (Don’t worry, I won’t use anything savory.) Once of very few sweets I actually make and eat is flan.  I love sweet potato version more than regular egg and cream version.  It’s healthier too.

What you need is grilled or steamed sweet potatoes left over from dinner before. Make sure it’s cooked tender. With these and hand blender, the prep will be done in a minutes.  Then all you have to do is steam and wait for it to set.

Whipped Up Sweet Potato Pudding

  1. Place 2 peeled, cooked sweet potatoes (about 2/3 lbs), equal amount of milk and cream, or half and half, and puree until smooth with stick blender. 
  2. Add 3 TBS sugar, 2 beaten eggs, and a dash of cinnamon. Mix well.
  3. Strain the sweet potato mixture through a small sieve into heat-proof cups. (It’s filling, so use smaller cups.  It also takes less for them to set.)
  4. Steam about 10 – 15 minutes (depending on the size of the cup) until set. Or place cups in a oven-proof pan filled with hot water (to about half of the height of the cups)and bake in toaster-oven (faster) or oven until set.


  • Use soy milk if you are watching calories.
  • Decorate with whipped cream on top.
  • If you have extra time, caramelized sugar before pouring in the sweet potato cream will make it even better. (Make sure to apply some butter all over the inside )especially at the bottom first for easier clean-up.
  • You can use the same filling for sweet potato pie. You may want to use more egg or less milk, since this pudding is pretty loose.
  • To be honest, I thought the sweet potato cream before heated was quite tasty…  If you want to just use it as dessert, be my guest. : ) 

So next time you grill, make sure to bake some extra sweet potatoes… You can eat some for dinner, and you now have an easy dessert later in the week!

Batch and Freeze: Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Do you like home-made baked goods, yet feel never have time to bake during the week?

My friend Margaret, who is also a Kitchen Wizard in my opinion, kindly shared her cookie shortcuts.

So here it is…  Thank you, Margaret!

One of the tougher things to do during a busy week is to bake, so I  always have a reserve of this spiced oatmeal cookie dough in my freezer to satisfy a craving relatively healthfully and inexpensively. These are a little lighter than the recipes calling for two sticks of butter and even from frozen dough, they bake up in only 15 minutes.

If nutmeg is not a spice you use regularly, rather than investing in a whole jar of the pods, purchase a few pods from  well-stocked markets’ bulk spice section.  Its subtle woodsy flavor really enhances this spice combination nicely.

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies Adapted from Cooking Light

Yields: 24 cookies.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Optional: you can replace ½ c with wheat flour.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper to line cookie sheets


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar and next 6 ingredients (brown sugar through egg) in a large bowl, and beat mixture at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended.
  3. Stir in oats and raisins, and let stand 5 minutes.. Stir in flour mixture.
  4. Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on wire racks.

Note: Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Freezing Instructions (The dough keeps for 4-6 weeks.)

  • Freeze the rest of the raw dough after forming it into balls. Use a small ice cream scoop to make them uniform.
  • To bake, simply put frozen dough balls on a cookie sheet, flatten dough slightly before putting in to a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 12-15 mins.

Whether you’re baking frozen or fresh dough, make sure not to overbake so you’ll end up with chewy cookies.

This dough is very versatile.Try walnuts, peanuts, flax seeds, chocolate chips, coconut, cranberries, dried cherries or any combination as a substitute for the raisins.