toasted coconut brown butter crispy treats

9 Feb

Toasting both the coconut and the butter adds depth to these nostalgic treats that is reminiscent of roasted marshmallows. The large-flaked, unsweetened coconut is delicious here, adding both a contrasting texture and appealing topping (sweetened coconut flakes might be too sweet in these). Keep an eye on the butter and coconut – both can go from perfectly golden to burnt quickly.

–Leah Elspeth



(makes about 12 bars)

  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (note: coconut oil might work well here)
  • 1 10-ounce package of marshmallows
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 9 cups of toasted rice cereal
  • non-stick spray or butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or butter an 8×8 pyrex dish. Set aside. Line a cookie sheet with silipat or parchment and spread the coconut in a single layer. Add to the preheated oven and bake until toasted, about five minutes or until just golden. Note: I  usually set my phone timer for a few minutes as a reminder to check them often!
  2. In the meantime, heat a large (preferably non-stick) pot over medium- low heat. To make the brown butter: add the butter to the pot to melt. The white flecks that separate as the butter melts are milk solids that can be toasted. The goal here is to stir and watch until the milk solids turn golden brown…but before they burn. Once they turn golden brown, add in the marshmallows, lower the heat and stir until the marshmallows melt.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and add the vanilla, salt, rice crispies and half of the coconut, reserving the rest for the topping. Stir to combine.
  4. Transfer to the oiled 8×8 dish, pressing the mixture down evenly. Allow the bars to cool for about 30 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy. These will keep for 2 days in an airtight container, but I doubt they will last that long!



my version of mac and cheese

23 Jan

Whole wheat elbows, veggies, and edamame are tossed in a creamy, home-made béchamel (white sauce) with cheddar cheese. Use your favorite noodles, veggies, and cheese. This recipe can easily be doubled. Or just double the cheese sauce, as that is the best part!

–Leah Elspeth



(serves 4, 1 cup servings)

  • 2 C. whole wheat elbows (or other favorite pasta)
  • 2 C. veggie mix (e. g. baby spinach, cremini mushrooms, edamame for protein)
  • Oil, for pasta/veggies
  • 1 T. butter (note: another fat, e.g. coconut oil, could be subbed for the butter)
  • 1 T flour
  • 4-6 T. milk (added to desired consistency, could sub non-dairy, unsweetened milk)
  • 1 /4 C. cheese (freshly shredded white cheddar, gruyere would also work well)
  • salt and pepper, as desired
  • parmesan cheese, as desired


  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (with a bite). Tip: if using frozen, shelled edamame, toss them into the pot of boiling water during the last minute.
  2. In the meantime, sauté veggies. Add a drizzle of oil (I like olive oil) to a large pan that as been heated over medium heat. Add veggies that take longest to cook first (e.g. mushrooms), and don’t crowd the pan! Toss as needed, allowing them to develop a golden brown color. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Add the quick cooking vegetables, such as baby spinach, just before taking the pan off the heat.
  3. In the meantime, drain the pasta, keeping the noodles slightly moist (pasta water helps thicken the sauce). Coat in olive oil. Set the pasta aside, in a large bowl and toss with the veggies.
  4. Using the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour to the butter and whisk until thickened (this paste is called a roux). Slowly add the milk, whisking to incorporate, adding additional milk until desired consistency is reached (the sauce will thicken). Whisk until bubbles just start to form. Take the béchamel off of the heat and stir in the cheese.
  5. Pour the sauce over the pasta veggie mixture, seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Great Pumpkin Cookies

25 Sep

A cookie recipe that powered a road trip adventure this past spring. Fall flavor made hearty with whole wheat flour and thick old fashioned rolled oats.

Great Pumpkin Cookie Recipe

Makes about 1.5 dozen cookies, can easily double

1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)

1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats

1/2 T baking soda

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t salt

1 stick butter, softened (1/2 cup)

1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 C sugar

1 egg

1/2 t vanilla

1/2 C canned pumpkin

3/4 C chocolate chips

Whisk dry ingredients (flour, oats, soda, cinnamon, salt). Set aside. Beat butter and sugars until lighter in color. Add egg and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients until JUST combined. Stir in pumpkin and chocolate chips. I like to scoop this out into plastic wrap, roll into a log, and place in the refrigerator overnight (up to 2 days). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, drop Tablespoons of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with silpat, parchment or foil, and bake until lightly golden, about 18-20 min (tip: I usually undercook cookie dough, but I have found that these need the extra time).