Full Belly Sisters: December 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Grilled Baked Brie with Shallots, Cranberries & Balsamic

This Grilled Baked Brie with Shallots, Cranberries and Balsamic is warm, creamy, and easy. It will surely impress your guests—but takes only a few minutes and a few ingredients to make!

If you follow Full Belly Sisters on Instagram, you'll know that I was lucky enough to attend a party to celebrate Président cheeses at New York City's French Cheese Board. All around me were platters of brie and goat cheese and butter and Roquefort...it was a fromage-lover's dream! And it was at this event that I first saw a grilled brie—and was inspired to make this Grilled Baked Brie with Shallots, Cranberries and Balsamic. The Président recipe featured plums and saba, a condiment made from grape must. I made my recipe to feature more seasonal (cranberries) and accessible (balsamic) ingredients, but the spirit and flavor of this creamy, easy, delicious dish is intact.

I love that this baked brie isn't wrapped up in a pastry. That traditional baked brie is delicious, but it tends to be heavy and I find that the pastry can sometimes overwhelm the cheese. By grilling and then baking the cheese, we can really celebrate the brie—for fewer calories! It's also a nice alternative baked brie for your guests who are gluten-free or grain-free.

  • 8 ounce round of Président brie
  • about 4 fresh thyme sprigs, stems discarded and leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 large shallots, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic
  • about 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • good balsamic vinegar or syrup (for drizzling) 
  • extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly-ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Set an oven-safe grill pan over medium heat and grill the whole brie for three minutes on each side.

Remove from stovetop and sprinkle thyme over the brie. Add shallots and garlic to pan and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, so that they're well-coated. Add salt and pepper. Now you're ready to bake this deliciousness.

Grilled and ready to go in the oven!

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and lightly drizzle with some more good, thick balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the dried cranberries on top. Serve with grilled bread, or thick slices of apple, or—as I did—brioche toasts.

Delicious and beautiful, isn't it? The creamy, charred brie pairs wonderfully with the earthy thyme, the roasted shallots, and the sweet-tart cranberries. This Grilled Baked Brie with Shallots, Cranberries and Balsamic would be a simple and stunning appetizer for a New Year's Eve party. But it's easy enough to make anytime you want to indulge in some cheesy deliciousness.

Have you ever grilled brie?

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Live on Green Tropical Smoothie

This delicious #DoleRose Live on Green Tropical Smoothie—packed with mango, spinach, pineapple and more—is a delicious way to kick off a healthy new year.

I'm truly excited to be a part of a Food Blogger Blast led by the fabulous Ally Philips of Ally's Kitchen. Ally is a Dole California Cook-Off Champion, so she knows delicious food! She's going to feature this green smoothie—as well as several other recipes—at the Dole Bistro when she does live cooking demonstrations as part of the Tournament of Roses Parade celebration.

This tropical smoothie was created in honor of Dole Packaged Foods' Live on Green event, which will take place December 29-31 in Pasadena. People from around the world will explore 100,000 square feet of free entertainment and fun activities. They'll also indulge in healthy snacks and beverages—like this Live on Green Tropical Smoothie—at the Dole Bistro. 

Can't make it to Pasadena this week? No problem. I've got DOLE's Live on Green Tropical Smoothie recipe right here for you, so you can enjoy this tasty green smoothie anytime! 

  • 4 cups DOLE® Baby Spinach  
  • 3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1/2 cup DOLE® pineapple juice
  • 1 cup DOLE® frozen mango chunks
  • 1 DOLE® banana

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until thick and smooth. Enjoy!

I should note that I slightly adapted the recipe to suit my personal preferences: I substituted coconut milk for the soy, and I used
DOLE® frozen pineapple chunks instead of a banana (I'm not a banana fan). If you follow us on Instagram, you know that this smoothie really brightened my day!


And on January 1, make sure to check out Dole Packaged Food’s rainforest-themed float at the Tournament of Roses Parade. The Soaring Over Paradise float includes four waterfalls, a zip line that travels through the rainforest canopy, and a flock of Macaws that appear to take flight over the floral gardens. Wish I could be there in person—don't you?

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Simple Homemade Citrus Thyme Lavender Salt Scrub

Scrambling for a last-minute Christmas gift? Check out my Simple Homemade Citrus Thyme Lavender Salt Scrub—you've probably got most of the ingredients already in your home!

This has been a tough holiday season for the Full Belly Sisters. Our dad has been in the hospital for a week; he's stable now but won't be home with us for Christmas. We've been practically living at the hospital with him, so there hasn't been much time to do the usual readying for the holidays. Luckily, I knew I could make this easy, homemade gift in no time: my Simple Homemade Citrus Thyme Lavender Salt Scrub. It's rustic but also looks elegant and feels like a real luxury to the gift recipient—whether it's a teacher, friend, or neighbor. And it takes much less time to make than baking batch after batch of cookies!

Best of all, this homemade salt scrub can easily be adapted, based on what you've got in the house. You can switch out the Epsom salt for a coarse sea salt; use grapefruit instead of the lemon and clementines; try rosemary or dried lavender or even a vanilla bean pod in lieu of thyme; use coconut or almond oil instead of olive oil. Basically: you can't go wrong, it'll turn out fabulous, no matter what yummy-smelling ingredients you use. 

The one ingredient you might not have on hand is the lavender oil. But it's easily purchased online, or at any health food store. In fact, lots of regular drugstores carry it, as well. It's a wonderful, powerfully-relaxing aroma. I made this scrub after a long, stressful day at the hospital; let me tell you, just the smell of everything was immediately soothing to my weary self.

NOTE: Consult your physician before using essential oils if you have high blood pressure, are pregnant or have other medical concerns.

I made a huge batch of this Simple Homemade Citrus Thyme Lavender Salt Scrub, so I could get a whole bunch of gifts out of it. 

makes 10 four-ounce jars
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups Epsom salt
  • zest of two lemons
  • zest of two clementines
  • small bunch of thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
  • about 50 drops lavender oil
  • 2 cups light olive oil
Mix the salt, zest, thyme leaves, lavender and olive oils together in a large bowl. Add more zest, thyme, or lavender oil, if you'd like, to adjust the smell to your preference. If the scrub feels too coarse to you, just add a bit more oil.

Scoop the homemade salt scrub into jars and decorate, if you like. I just added a simple label (that came with the jars) and some red and white twine. I'm not a super crafty person, but I think the gifts look nice.

I love to keep this salt scrub by my kitchen sink, so I can moisturize my hands after washing lots of dishes. Just scrub on in a circular motion, rinse with warm water, and pat your hands dry.

I'm giving these pretty jars to my friends and to my son's teachers. Who will you give them to? And how are you finding simple ways to relax during this stressful time of year?

If you'd prefer to make something edible as a last-minute homemade gift, try my Herb-Marinated Cheeses:

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Superfood Christmas Crispy Treats

Looking for an easy holiday dessert? Make these Superfood Christmas Crispy Treats: they're simple, pretty, and the kids will love them! And they contain a healthy, secret ingredient that makes them greenso there are no artificial colors in this seasonal treat.

Ever since I made my Frankenstein Crispy Treats, my son has been asking for me to make them again. Since Halloween is long over, I decided to make these Superfood Christmas Crispy Treats in a tree-shaped pan, for an easy holiday dessert. Best of all, these sweet snacks have no artificial colors—they get their green color from fujiKale, an organic kale powder! 

For full recipe and instructions, check out my Frankenstein Crispy Treats. Instead of pressing the cereal-marshmallow-kale mixture into a regular baking pan, just press it into your greased Christmas tree pan. When you're ready to serve, cut the rice crispy tree into individual treats.

I decorated my tree with melted Divine white chocolate and naturally-colored, candy-coated chocolate from Trader Joe's. Decorating is not my forte, but I think it looks cute. And, more importantly, my son LOVED it. 

We cut the tree into smaller pieces for easier serving and brought the treats over to our local senior center, where our Cub Scouts (yes, I'm a den mom—my high school self would be so embarrassed) caroled and had a party for the seniors. It was wonderful and truly felt like what this season should be all about: sharing time, food, and smiles with others.

For more simple holiday desserts, check out some other Full Belly Sisters recipes:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Truffles

Cannoli Cream Sandwich Cookies

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NestleHolidayBaking #CollectiveBias

This easy Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Pie pairs a decadent hot cocoa cookie crust with a homemade sweet cream ice cream. It's my twist on a mug of hot chocolate topped with loads of whipped cream—a frozen, delicious twist. And it will knock the socks off your holiday guests!

Now, you all know that I love to bake from scratch. But sometimes—especially around the holidays, when things get really busy and there are SO MANY parties to attend—I need a shortcut. For this recipe, it's NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Hot Cocoa Cookie Dough: cocoa cookies with a marshmallow filling. Yowza.

This break-and-bake cookie dough is new and available through December: you can find it in Walmart's refrigerated section (look for the yellow NESTLÉ® packages), with the ready-to-bake items.

This cookie dough makes an easy crust for an ice cream pie. The ice cream is made from scratch but it's super simple, too. Just a few basic ingredients and this Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Pie will come together in no time!

I'd say this pie serves at least eight people. But it's super rich and decadent, so I think you could serve up to 12 people and they'd feel satisfied and happy!

serves 8-12

  • one package NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Hot Cocoa Cookie Dough
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk, chilled
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, chilled
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • NESTLÉ® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the hot cocoa cookie dough and press it evenly into an ungreased pie plate, pressing the dough up the sides a bit. Don't press the dough too thin or it will dry out when you bake it. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Check out that marshmallow, swirling through the crust!

Put the sugar, evaporated milk, and whole milk into a bowl. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Slowly stir in the heavy cream. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. (My machine took about 25 minutes of churning.) Once the ice cream is ready, it will be a thick, soft-serve consistency.

Spoon the ice cream into the baked, completely cooled cookie crust. I spread it so that it looked like a swirl of whipped cream on top of a mug of hot cocoa.

 And then garnish with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips. 

Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for six hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish each slice with additional mini morsels, if desired.

If you're planning to give this Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Pie as a gift, try decorating it with one of these cool NESTLÉ® printables.


You can download these or other printables for free here. Whether you're making my Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Pie or just a batch of hot cocoa cookies to bring to a holiday exchange, these cute printables are fabulous!

No matter what sweet treats you're making this holiday season, NESTLÉ® has all your baking needs covered. To get even more holiday recipe inspiration, check out the NESTLÉ® Flavorful Moments and Very Best Baking Pinterest boards. You can also follow NESTLÉ® on Facebook and Instagram.

What are your favorite recipes to make during the busy holiday season? Share your recipe with us in the comments below.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Cookies

These Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Cookies are a perfectly delicious, easy, and fun recipe for your holiday cookie exchange. Or even a virtual holiday cookie exchangelike today's edition of #FreakyFriday!
I made these Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Cookies as part of a virtual holiday cookie exchange. My blogger buddy—Michaela, from the wonderful An Affair from the Heart—has been organizing these Freaky Friday recipe swaps for a bunch of bloggers. We are each assigned someone else's blog and we select a recipe to try and then share. And look at all the yumminess that came out of this event:
It's a big secret who is assigned to which blog...Until now! I am thrilled to announce that I got A Dish of Daily Life because it's a blog I follow and adore. Michelle's food is always gorgeous and delicious and, most often, pretty healthy. Her recipes are creative but accessible for home cooks.

Now, despite all of Michelle's healthy dishes, our assignment for this Freaky Friday was dessert: cookies or candies that would be at home on a holiday dessert tray. I actually let my husband choose which of her recipes I should make. I was pretty sure he was going to pick her Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cookies because he's a Nutella freak. But he actually chose these Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Cookies.

And I was so glad! After recently making batches of my Thin and Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies I was thrilled to make bars—much simpler than dropping cookie dough balls onto tray after tray for baking! Plus, I'd never baked with granola and was really intrigued by the idea. (I also had my eye on Michelle's PB&J Bars with Strawberry Jam, but those will have to wait for another time!)

Guess what? They were wonderful! The balance of chocolate and the spiced oats of the granola was unique and very yummy. My husband and son both really enjoyed them. My son called them "cake cookies' because of their cake-like texture; I liked that they were just lightly sweet and had a delicate, buttery crumble to them.

  • 1¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of granola, crushed into smaller pieces (I used Bear Naked Sea Salt Caramel Apple Granola and pulsed it a few times in my Vitamix);
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Separately, mix together butter, sugars, vanilla and egg. Add the flour mixture slowly; I used a hand mixer. Blend in granola and chocolate chips.

Press into square baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 14 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

Wouldn't you like to see these sweet treats on your holiday cookie platter?

Check out all the fantastic bloggers participating in this Freaky Friday event: A Dish Of Daily Life || An Affair from the Heart || Cooking on a Budget || Full Belly Sisters || LeMoine Family Kitchen || Pic-Nic || The Foodie Affair || Who Needs A Cape || Wildflour’s Cottage Kitchen || Life Currents || Big Rigs 'n' Little Cookies || Christine It ||

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cannoli Cream Sandwich Cookies w. Pistachios and Cherries

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias

Cannoli Cream Sandwich Cookies with Pistachios and Cherries are delicious, pretty, and perfect for the holidays. They're also delicate. So, when I deliver these sweet treats to friends, I pack them in Rubbermaid TakeAlongs: they protect the cookies and provide an easy, festive package.

That simple package is perfect when my son and go "Elfing." Have you ever heard of it? I never did, growing up in New York City; now that we're living in the 'burbs I've been introduced to this fun tradition. Basically, you go to your friends' and neighbors' homes and secretly drop off treats on their doorsteps. It's a nice way to share the holiday with the people around you.

I got this printable sign here, isn't it cute?

Elfing is such a nice way to celebrate the season of giving. It's not about spending a lot of money; it's about making friends feel special. That's why I think homemade treats for Elfing are especially meaningful: they reflect the time and energy you put into the package. My Cannoli Cream Sandwich Cookies with Pistachios and Cherries feature two of my family's favorite traditional recipes: my cannoli cream and pizzelle cookies. These sandwich cookies have unique seasonal touches—like white, red, and green ingredients inspired by Christmas—that make them a special holiday gift. And, of course, it's great fun for my son to take our family's own traditions to go, when we secretly deliver to his friends' houses!

My son, ready to do his Elfing duties!

These cookies are super easy, especially if you use store-bought ricotta and pizzelle cookies (these are Italian waffle cookies and can be found in Italian specialty stores or in many supermarkets, near the bakery section).

makes a dozen large sandwich cookies
  • 2 cups ricotta (homemade or store-bought)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, minced
  • 24 pizzelle cookies (homemade or store-bought)
  • powdered sugar, optional

Place the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest in a food processor or blender. Process for two to four minutes until thick and smooth. Fold in the pistachios and cherries.

Place a pizzelle on a plate or board. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the cannoli cream mixture onto the cookie and spread it almost to the edges. Top with another cookie, then dust with powdered sugar. Keep assembling this way until all your Cannoli Cream Sandwich Cookies are done. Then stack them in your sturdy Rubbermaid TakeAlongs and get ready to deliver to your buddies.

Pizzelles are very thin, buttery, and delicate. When you first make these sandwiches, the cookies will be crisp. If they sit for a while, sandwiched around the cannoli cream, the cookies will soften and become cakey. Either way, they taste yummy.


Now, I'm not a crafty gal. Luckily, the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs are available in festive red, green, or holiday prints, so you can share the holiday in style. I just used a rectangular container, tied with a simple white ribbon and decorated with a snowflake (to match my "snowflake" pizzelle cookies). It looks so snazzy, right?

I found my Rubbermaid TakeAlongs in the Housewares section at Walmart, right in the food storage aisle. A variety of sizes, shapes, and colors are available—there's even a deviled egg tray! Don't miss the special Ibotta rebate now for Walmart shoppers: you'll get $1 off of any two Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. That rebate makes this a great time to stock up for your own Elfing adventures, so you can take your family's favorite recipes and traditions to go.

Make sure you check out all the cool holiday styles of Rubbermaid TakeAlongs for fun and easy packaging. How will you share the holiday with your friends and neighbors?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Healthier Thin and Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

These delicious Healthier Thin and Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies are lightly sweet with a hint of sea salt. They're packed with nutrients from ingredients like whole wheat and almond flours, as well as chia and flax seeds. But they've still got all the buttery, chocolatey goodness you want in a cookie!

My Healthier Thin and Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies provide exactly what I want in a cookie: buttery crispness, a hint of caramel, and an ever-so-slightly chewy center. The hint of sea salt highlights the buttery taste; the contrasting sweet and savory flavors actually helps to heighten the sweetness. I know many people are drawn to thick, chewy cookies but I'm all about a lacy, delicate, crunchy cookie. And, you know what? When I serve these, people go nuts for 'em! So, maybe everyone just hasn't had the right crispy cookie yet..?

While these cookies certainly aren't health food, they are healthier than most and do provide quite a bit of nutrition. The old-fashioned rolled oats are a great source of iron and lend a wonderful texture to these cookies; white whole wheat flour adds fiber and protein; almond flour is a great source of magnesium, calcium, and protein; chia and flax seeds give a nice dose of omega-3s.

But, here's the thing: these 
Thin and Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies still taste like dessert and they still feel like a treat. "Healthier" doesn't mean they're not delicious! 

makes about 30 cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Combine the flours, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until just combined. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips.

Scoop by heaping tablespoons onto a parchment-covered baking sheet. Leave plenty of room between the cookies, as they will spread (that's how they get all thin and crispy!). I put eight cookies per sheet: three on the top row, two in the middle, and three again on the bottom row. Gently press down on each scoop of dough to lightly flatten it, just a bit. Sprinkle a few grains of the coarse sea salt over each raw cookie.

Bake one sheet at a time, for about 11-13 minutes; rotate your baking sheet halfway through. The cookies should be golden across the top, with crisp edges. Remove from oven and place the baking sheet on a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the sheet; they're really too delicate to move while still warm. 

If you're reusing your baking sheets, make sure the sheets are completely cooled before placing dough on them for the next batch.

By the way, don't try to swap out the old-fashioned oats for instant oats—you will lose all that glorious oat texture and they will just not work!

Check out some of our other healthier cookie recipes!

Vanilla Bean Pizzelle Cookies

Almond Joy Cowboy Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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