Archive of ‘Dessert’ category

Black & White Almond Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

When I was little, my grandmother used to spend the weeks leading up to Christmas baking pies, cookies, brownies, and various Italian confections. These Black and White Almond Cookies remind me of a cross between the almond crescent cookies she used to make and biscotti. I think they taste the best after taking a dunk in some hot coffee!

Black and White Almond Cookies | gluten-free, dairy-free | Cucina Kristina |

Do you know what today is? Today is the day that the internet gets flooded with delicious cookie recipes from all of your favorite food bloggers, myself included. If you’ve been following me in Instagram, you’ve probably seen me posting various cookie pictures over the last few weeks and today you can get all the recipes because today is the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap recipe reveal day! 

What’s the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap you ask? It’s a food blogger swap organized by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen benefiting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national non-profit organization that funds research to find new and improved treatments for pediatric cancer. I am so honored to be chosen among all of the bloggers that joined this year to benefit such a great cause.

Black and White Almond Cookies | gluten-free, dairy-free | Cucina Kristina |


Maxwell Street Market & Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles

I have some exciting news. This is my 100th post! Woo!

In honor of my 100th post, I am going to give you a travel post AND a recipe. Y’all are lucky readers. :) In addition to chronicling my world travels, I wanted to start writing about my discoveries and adventures right here in Sweet Home, Chicago. You can find my first “Tourist in the City” post about the Chicago Botanic Garden here.

Today, I am going to tell you about a hidden gem in Chicago. It’s the Maxwell Street Market, a weekly open-air flea market located in the South Loop. Seriously, if you live in Chicago and you love Mexican food, you should head down to Des Plaines and Polk Street and stuff yourself silly. The market is held every Sunday. You’ll find some of the best, inexpensive Mexican street food in Chicago and there is no admission price to get in. Win!

Pastor Taco at Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina |

Pastor (Pork) taco – $2

I went with a friend of mine in November and ate approximately 25 pounds of food. Ok, maybe not quite 25 pounds of food, but I sure as heck ate a TON of tacos that day and didn’t feel guilty about it.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina |

Me, quesadillas, carne asada, and pastor.

The food is all made to order, even the tortillas. Did I mention that it is cheap? Check out these prices.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina |

I recommend… everything!

This lady was a tortilla making machine! She was cranking them out like nobody’s business.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina |

Fresh, soft, warm tortillas. YUM!

I am a bit of a mole freak. I love mole. If I see it on a menu, I have to order it. This was some of the best mole I’ve had since moving to Chicago and I paid $2.50 for it.

Maxwell Street | Cucina Kristina |

I love mole!

In addition to housing some fantastic street food, the Maxwell Street Market is also host to a flea market. Need a set of tires? You can get them here along with a new lamp, a package of socks, a box of nails, and a guitar. You can also get your hands on some fresh produce at prices that beat any grocery store in town.

At the flea market, I bought a bag of dried hibiscus flowers and have been drinking hibiscus tea throughout the winter. Hibiscus tea has a very tart flavor, similar to a cranberry. I happened to like the tartness and usually drank my tea without adding any additional sugar, although I occasionally added a bit of honey to sweeten it. The hibiscus flower contains vitamin C, is thought to lower blood pressure, and has a surprising amount of health benefits. It is also very pretty to look at when it is steeping in your teapot. :)

I posted a picture of strawberry hibiscus popsicles in last week’s Paleo Food Diary and had a lot of people asking for the recipe. If you do not have popsicle molds, you can freeze these in ice cube trays, Dixie cups, or muffin tins. If you like strawberry, you might also enjoy my strawberry, banana, and orange popsicles.

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles
Makes 6 pops

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles | Cucina Kristina |

Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles


  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dried Hibiscus flowers


  1. In a pot, bring water and Hibiscus flowers to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain flowers and add the liquid to a blender.
  3. Add strawberries, banana, and honey and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze.

Homemade Strawberry-Banana Popsicles

I love the kitchen section of TJ Max. The store by my house carries a hefty selection of brand-name kitchen items at bargain prices. My most recent purchase was a set of Tovolo Popsicle Molds, which I picked up for $5.

I’ve made two types of popsicles in the last few weeks and both have been great! They are so refreshing to have as dessert and not as heavy as ice cream. I have seen tons of recipes online that call for added sugar or a simple syrup, but I found these to be fantastic without either. My healthy-phobic husband even gobbled them up and requested I make more immediately.

I used almond milk in the first batch of popsicles and orange juice in the second batch. The almond milk gave the popsicles a slightly creamier consistency than the orange juice, but the consistency was not as creamy as yogurt would have been.

Strawberry-Banana Popsicles
Makes 6 pops

Cucina Kristina: Strawberry-Banana Popsicles

Strawberry-Banana Popsicles


  • Approximately 20 strawberries
  • 1-2 bananas
  • 1 tablespoon honey (Optional. I like a subtle hint of honey, but you can omit this if you are not a honey lover or substitute with agave)
  • 1 cup orange juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste and add more fruit as desired. More banana if you want a more bananay flavor, more strawberries if you want more of a berry flavor.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 4-6 hours.

You don’t have to have fancy popsicle molds to make homemade popsicles. Popsicle sticks are cheap and you can get creative with molds. You can use Dixie cups, ice-cube trays, empty yogurt containers, or mini muffin tins to name a few.

These work out to be just under 100 calories each so they are perfect for a late-night snack when you are craving something sweet. I also thought of adding a scoop or two of protein powder to the mix and having them as an before/after workout snack.

Cucina Kristina: Strawberry-Banana Popsicles

The sweet taste of summer!

Some other combinations I am going to try are:

  • Strawberry-coconut
  • Mango-pineapple
  • Kiwi-strawberry
  • Strawberry-balsamic
  • Blackberry, blueberry, raspberry
  • Pineapple, almond milk, and coconut
  • Watermelon-mint
  • Peanut butter, honey, chocolate

These are can also be adapted to fit almost any dietary need. They can be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free… You really can’t mess up a popsicle so have fun playing around with the unlimited combinations!

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