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Monday, December 23, 2013

Krispy Peanut Butter Truffles

I got this recipe from a friend many years ago. It's been a staple on my Christmas baking list since then. I love peanut butter and chocolate together and the crunchy rice krispies in this make that combination come to life even more. Unfortunately, I'm on sugar overload for this season and we still have a couple of days to go. I'm sure I will be posting healthier recipes when Christmas is past, as I will be trying to get back to my all natural, clean eating, since I feel like I need to detox right about now! This recipe is so easy to make and hardly takes any time at all. So if you need to whip up a fast candy for company, this one will work for ya, I  promise. That is IF you can stop yourself from eating them all before your company arrives! ;)
1 cube butter ( use real butter, don't use margarine)
2 3/4 cup Rice Krispy cereal
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 box (1 lb) powdered sugar
Candiquik chocolate dipping bark or melted milk chocolate of any kind
Cocktail peanuts, chopped, for topping

Melt butter and mix the rest of the ingredients into it. Use a heavy duty spoon to mix this. If you use a mixer, you will crush up all your Rice Krispies. Roll the mixture into balls. Place in the refrigerator to firm up. When they are firm and cold, dip each ball into melted chocolate and place chopped peanuts onto the top of each candy. Place the candies onto waxed paper to firm up again. Store in airtight container on the counter or in the refrigerator.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge

If you read my last post, then you will know that usually fudge is not my thing. Well, the peppermint fudge I made, changed my mind and this peanut butter cup fudge most certainly changed it also. But like I always say, you can mix peanut butter with anything in my opinion and you probably have a winning dish. Everyone that tasted this during the Christmas season has loved it. Ok except for my hubby....wait it's not that he didn't love it, it's that he didn't even try it. Sweets could sit around this house for days and he would never even think to try them. How is that fair? It's NOT! I can't even be around sweets, they are like my drug of choice! But trust me when I say, that everyone that did try this, really liked it!
Recipe Source: http://centercutcook.com/peanut-butter-cup-fudge/

20 Reese's miniature peanut butter cups, chopped
2 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar (make sure you sift)
1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp vanilla

 Line an 8 x 8 pan with saran wrap so that it will be easy to lift the fudge out of the pan.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a rolling boil, then cook for exactly 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in peanut butter and mix to combine. Add in vanilla.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your mixer. Add in sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing between additions. After you’ve added all of the confectioners sugar, mix well! The mixture is going to be really thick, but that's how you want it!

Press the mixture into the prepared dish. Let the fudge cool slightly but not all the way. (Just enough so that the peanut butter cups will still stick to the fudge, but cool enough so they won't melt.)

Sprinkle chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups over the fudge and gently press them down.

Chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours, or until firm, then use the saran wrap as handles to lift the fudge out of the pan. Remove the saran wrap and cut into small squares.

Peppermint Fudge

I have to admit that I am not much of a fudge eater. I mean, I like it, it's ok, but I tend to like the Southern, gritty, harder type fudge, rather than the soft kind. But I think I could become a convert with this peppermint fudge. The mint added such a depth to the flavor and gave it some texture that is usually not there with plain chocolate fudge. This one will be added to my "have to make at Christmas list" from  now on. :)
Recipe Adapted From: http://chocolateandcarrots.com/2012/12/peppermint-fudge

  • 1 (14 ounce) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (you can substitute with dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 candy canes, crushed into bits for the topping

Line an 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
Over a double boiler on simmer, heat the the sweetened condensed milk and butter together until the butter is melted.
Add in the semi sweet chocolate chips, stirring until melted.
Mix in the peppermint and vanilla and stir until combined.
Place the candy canes in a baggie. Gently crush with a cup, or the back of a spoon, until the candy canes are in small sized pieces.
Pour the pieces into a strainer to sift out the finely crushed peppermint dust.
Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top of the fudge.
Place in therefrigerator to set for at least 3 hours before cutting into squares.

Peanut Butter Christmas Tree Cookies

I think everyone in their lifetime has tasted Peanut Butter Blossoms. Good old peanut butter cookies with a scrumptious Hershey kiss on the top! These cookies were a part of my childhood. My mom didn't make them often, but when she did....oh boy....I couldn't eat enough of them. This might explain why I am dieting AGAIN lol. When I saw on Pinterest that you could take this simple little cookie and decorate the Hershey kisses to look like Christmas trees, I was so excited. This was super easy, lots of fun and even my 3 year old grand daughter enjoyed helping with these. She got to put all those cute little sprinkle dots all over them. Yes, I will be sweeping up the excess off my floor until next Christmas, but it was worth it, to watch her eyes light up as we made these!
Recipe Source: http://javacupcake.com/2013/12/christmas-tree-peanut-butter-blossoms/

48 Hershey's Kisses chocolate candies
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling the cookies in before cooking
green frosting
holiday sprinkles

Heat oven to 375°F and line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the foil wrap from the Hershey kisses and set aside.
Beat shortening and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl until well blended.
Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat until fluffy.
Add egg, milk and vanilla. Beat well.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat this mixture into the peanut butter mixture.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on prepared cookie sheet.
Bake 7-8 minutes or until lightly browned.
Immediately press a chocolate, gently,  into the center of each cookie. The cookie will slightly crack around the edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. You have to make sure your cookies are completely cooled before decorating the kisses. I baked mine the day before I decorated them.
Either color white icing until it's the desired shade of green or use green icing if you can find it. Fill a baggie with the icing and cut a small hole on one of the corners. Gently squeeze the baggie (you don't want to cause it to break the baggie open) and starting at the base of the Hershey kiss, pipe a line of frosting swirling around the kiss and up to the top. Immediately sprinkle with the holiday sprinkles.

Microwave Peanut Brittle

What's easier than making Christmas candy in just a few minutes in the microwave? Almost nothing. Well ok...I'm sure there are easier things, but when you are overwhelmed, busy and still want to make some Christmas candy, this is definitely the easiest recipe I can think of. If you have a spare 15 minutes, then you can definitely do this. I was visiting my mom last week, who does not have Internet service at her house and she wanted to make peanut brittle, so we made it the old fashioned way. Oh my goodness, that is so much time spent stirring and watching a candy thermometer. UGH....I came home and decided I would look into good old Pinterest to help me find a good microwave peanut brittle recipe. I'm so glad I did. This didn't take any time at all and it really turned out great!
Original Recipe Source: http://www.plainchicken.com/2011/12/microwave-peanut-brittle.html

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1 Tbsp butter 1 tsp vanilla
 1 cup salted cocktail peanuts
1 tsp baking soda

Combine sugar and syrup in a microwave safe bowl. Stir.
Microwave on high for 5 minutes. (Watch for burning....some microwaves run  much hotter than others)
Add butter, vanilla and peanuts and stir to combine. 
Microwave on high for 1 minute 30 seconds.
Remove bowl from microwave (be extremely careful, this bowl will burn you badly if you are not careful)
and quickly stir in baking soda. Immediately pour mixture onto parchment paper or a very thoroughly greased cookie sheet. Spread with a knife or non rubber spatula to desired thickness and let cool for 1 hour. Break into pieces and enjoy! Store in an airtight container or baggie.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spicy Cashew Chicken

Well hello blog. It's been awhile. Life got so busy, as it does for many of us when the holidays begin. On top of being busy, our household had a long run of stomach flu and nasty head colds. Needless to say, we were not quite in the state of health to enjoy good food. So that's why the blog suffered for quite some time. Today is honestly the first day that I can say I feel almost ok. I am probably getting a sinus infection and don't care for the headache that is ensuing because of it, but at this point I am getting used to feeling "not so great". Anyway, I didn't prepare a whole bunch of yummy meals through all this, but I did  take time one night to make this yummy cashew chicken. Oh it's so good and I cannot wait to make it again and this time, NOBODY will be sick when I make it! ;)
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp cooking sherry
2 Tbsp soy sauce
 1/4 cup olive oil
 1 tsp red pepper flakes

3 green onions, sliced
 2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup cashews
Toasted sesame seeds
 
SAUCE:
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp white vinegar



Combine 1 Tbsp soy sauce and the cooking sherry in a medium bowl. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and place the chicken pieces in the soy/sherry mixture. Let the chicken marinade in the mixture while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.



In a small bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside. Slice the green onions, and measure out the red pepper flakes and minced garlic. 



Drain the chicken in a strainer to drain off some of the excess marinade.

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add chicken and red pepper flakes. Cook for just a minute and then add the garlic. Cook chicken until it's cooked through. Drain any excess oil.  Add cashews. Add the soy/sherry sauce mixture. Stir the chicken to cover everything in sauce. Sauce should thicken quite a bit. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and add sliced green onions.

Serve.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Almond Cinnamon Toffee

I hate having insomnia! The reason might not be why you think. Sure I walk around at work all day like a zombie ready to fall over, but that's actually not the reason I hate insomnia so much. The reason is that when I wake up too early in the morning, or the middle of the night, the ONLY thing there is to do is make something yummy in the kitchen. Sure, I could watch I love Lucy re-runs or some other show on TV, but really....doesn't cooking or baking sound like a lot more fun? I think so! The problem is that my insomnia is going to  lead to extra lbs on my already too fat thighs and belly. So off I go to work now sleepy and fat lol!
http://www.sugarhero.com/recipes/?recipe_id=6005053
1 cup (2 cubes) butter
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Line a baking sheet with Parchment paper and set aside. Use a food processor to coarsely chop half the almonds. Set aside. Use the food processor to finely chop the other half of the almonds. Set those aside also.
 2.Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the sugar. Once the sugar is mixed in, add the water and corn syrup and stir until well-mixed together.
3. Place the pan back on the heat and insert a candy thermometer. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the candy reaches 290 degrees. 
4. Once the candy reaches 290 degrees, remove it from the heat. Stir in the cinnamon and all the coarsely chopped nuts, and immediately pour the candy onto the prepared baking sheet. Tilt the sheet several times to spread the candy in a thin layer. Allow the toffee to sit at room temperature until it is completely cool.
5. Place the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds to avoid burning it.
6. Spoon half of the melted chocolate on top of the toffee, and spread it in a thin, even layer over the top. Sprinkle half of the finely chopped nuts on the wet chocolate. Place the toffee in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes (or the freezer for 5-10 min) to firm up the chocolate. 
7. Remove the toffee from the refrigerator (or freezer) and lift it from the parchment paper. Flip the toffee over so that the chocolate side is now resting on the parchment paper. Spoon the remaining melted chocolate over the top of the toffee and spread it evenly. (If necessary, re-warm the chocolate briefly so that it is spreadable). Sprinkle the remaining finely chopped nuts on the chocolate.Refrigerate (or freeze) the toffee again for just a few minutes to set the chocolate. 
9. Once set, break the candy into small pieces with your hands. Store the toffee in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Ginger Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Do you sometimes want to make an entire batch of cookie dough, just to eat the dough? Or is it just me? Admit it, you like cookie dough too. I think almost everyone does. As I was making these cookies, I was finding it so hard to stay out of the dough. It was so yummy! My solution? Pop a piece of peppermint gum in your mouth and then you won't want to ruin that wonderful peppermint breath, by continually eating cookie dough. It worked for me.  Well ok...AFTER I had gotten into the dough, but trust me, if I hadn't have had gum, I'm fairly sure there would have been no dough left to make into cookies!
Thankfully there was some left and I could take this picture and type up the recipe for you. This one is easy, and truly tastes like Fall. 
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup (or 1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 bag Hershey's cinnamon chips (these are usually found in the Fall season only. I find mine at Wal Mart)
sugar for rolling the cookies

Heat oven to 350°

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

Using your mixer, cream together the butter and the brown sugar. . Add in the egg and molasses. Beat until mixed well.

Add in the dry ingredients and combine until mixed well together. (Don't overmix)

Pour in the bag of cinnamon chips and mix only until the chips are spread throughout the dough well.

Roll the dough into balls the size of a small golf ball. and then roll each ball in sugar.  Place the dough balls onto the parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12--14 minutes. (I baked mine the full 14 minutes because the hubby likes his cookies on the firm side.) If you like them chewier, take them out at 12 minutes. Let them sit for about 5 minutes on the hot cookie sheet and then remove them to cookie racks to cool completely.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lime Chicken Pesto Burritos with Spicy Slaw

Today was the first day in quite sometime that I have actually had a little bit of extra time to put some thought into dinner. It seems like lately, I feel like a  hamster on a wheel, going around and around endlessly for days. So today was a good day to try out something new. It felt so good to be feeling creative again and to be enjoying cooking. It's hard to enjoy cooking when life gets too busy and you don't have time to get super creative! The "cheesy" tortillas were scrumptious and all the flavors went together very well. I hope to have time to make these again very soon.




*Below is a picture of what the "cheesy" tortillas looked like before I filled them and rolled them
Recipes Adapted From:
 http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com/gourmet-your-tacos-in-3-minutes-works-for-any-tacos/
http://joelens.blogspot.com/2010/05/cilantro-lime-chicken-tacos.html



Cilantro Lime Chicken with Pesto Sauce:
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
salt/pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup cilantro chopped
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp toasted, sliced almonds
3 Tbsp fresh garlic chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chicken broth


1 large tomato, chopped, for garnish
4 green onions, chopped, for garnish

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and place chicken in the skillet. Cook the chicken until it is cooked through. Toss with the cilanto pesto (recipe below) and serve in a cheesy tortilla (recipe below) with spicy slaw (recipe below), diced tomatoes and green onions. Roll up burrito style or fold and serve as a taco.


Spicy Slaw:
1 1/2 cups cabbage, chopped finely
2 tsp juice from a jar of pepperoncini
4 Tbsp pepperoncini peppers, chopped
juice from 1/2 of a fresh lime
2 small hot chilis, chopped *use less if you don't care for spicy food*
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a medium/large bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cheesy Tortillas:
4 med/large flour tortillas
slices of mozzarella cheese *or your favorite cheese*

Lay slices of mozzarella or your favorite cheese on half of a flour tortilla. Fold it closed over the cheese. In a large skillet, cook on both sides over medium heat until the cheese in the center is melted. When all the cheese is melted, open the tortilla (be careful it's hot) and place the open tortilla, cheesy side down into the skillet. Cook for just a few seconds to a minute (depending on how high you have your heat) until the cheese is golden brown. Use the tortillas to wrap your favorite burrito or taco.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Salad

Let me first apologize for this picture. I actually forgot to take a picture of our dinner before we started eating. So unfortunately you are seeing a half eaten shrimp salad haha! Obviously I couldn't wait to tear into this bad boy. Oh my goodness, this is the most light and refreshing salad I have had in a long time. If my mango had been a tad been riper, it would have been even better than it already was. The perfect combination of tart from the lime, hot from the chili, sweet from the mango and savory from the shrimp, make a perfect marriage of flavors! On top of that, this is a no cook recipe. So you can't use the excuse that you don't know how to cook. Do you know how to slice up things with a knife? Do you know how to squeeze a lime? If you answered yes to those, then I'm afraid you are out of excuses. Go chop and squeeze and make this salad so you can see for yourself how great it is!

Recipe Source:
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/mango-avocado-shrimp-salad-10000001713106/

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice 
2 Tbsp olive oil  
1 Tbsp sugar  
2 large ripe mangoes  
2 medium firm-ripe avocados 
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
2/3 cup chopped cilantro  
1 Tbsp chopped fresh hot red or green chile  
1 pound  peeled cooked shrimp, tails removed

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, oil, and sugar until sugar dissolves.
In a large bowl, dice the mangoes and avocados into cubes. Add green onion, cilantro, chile, and shrimp.
Pour the lime mixture over the top and mix gently. Serve cold.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Fall is finally in the air! I love the smell of pumpkin goodies baking. I really think it's my favorite seasonal baking product. Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin muffins, you name it...I LOVE it! I have to be honest though, that I have  never put pumpkin and chocolate together. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the combination. I actually liked it. You could make these with or without the chocolate chips.Either way....just make them!
Makes 18 muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 can ( 1 lb) solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

Heat oven to 375°
Lightly grease and flour loaf pans. In a medium bowl, sift flour together with salt, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until well blended. Add the eggs and mix again until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix again.
Place paper liners into the muffin tins. Pour the batter into each muffin cup until it's 2/3 full. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bean and Corn Salad

I wish all side dishes came together as quickly as this one. I guess if you bought a bag of pre-mixed salad at the store, it might be quicker, but I guarantee you, it wouldn't taste as good. This was so quick and easy to prepare. It's healthy, yummy and would be a perfect summertime accompaniment to a family BBQ. I know, I know, it's not summer. Well....put this on your "to do" list so you will be ready when summer comes around again. I myself will fix this in Fall, Winter and Spring also! :)
Recipe Adapted From: http://mom-machine.com/my-favorite-summer-side/

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups shelled edamame
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped (I used the kind in the jar)
1 cup corn, cooked and cut off the cob (you can substitute frozen that has been thawed)
1 avocado
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes
Salt/Pepper to taste

Mix everything together in a very large bowl. Stir lightly as to not "break up" the avocado and other veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold. (Make sure not to skip the lime juice, this is what prevents the avocado from turning brown)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baked Zucchini Fries with Fiesta Dip

I sure wish I would have decided to try this recipe in the summer season when zucchini's were taking over my entire backyard. But leave it to me, to decide to try this, when I have to pay my local grocer for something I can grow myself. Yes, zucchini season is over for me! Well, at least now I know of a great way to use up some of the zucchini I grow next season. Here is the funny part...when zucchini is in season, it's too stinking hot to turn on the oven to cook this, so what is a girl to do? I guess  the answer is crank up the air conditioning in the summer and just make this anyway! Yes it's that good. It's just a new way to prepare zucchini, since I think I have actually tried every other way possible. The dip was so good with it also. In fact, I wanted to just get a spoon and eat the dip, I refrained. But barely!
Recipe Sources:
http://www.funandfoodcafe.com/fried-zucchini/
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/fiesta-dip-10000001731425/

For the Fiesta Dip:
4 oz cream cheese, softened 
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt  
1/8 cup light mayonnaise  
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped 
3/4 tsp lime juice 
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
2-3 Tbsp chopped jarred roasted red bell peppers 
1 Tbsp finely chopped green onion


Place the first 7 ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth. Add the roasted peppers and the green onion and pulse the processor just a few times until blended they are blended in.
Place in a bowl and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


For the Zucchini:
3 zucchini
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 packet Shake & Bake Coating Mix
1 egg

Heat oven to 450ยบ
Trim the ends off the zucchini, then cut crosswise in half, then cut each piece into 1/4-inch sticks.
 In the shake and bake bag, add the shake and bake mix and the Parmesan cheese. Shake to combine. 
Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Add the zucchini slices to the egg and toss to coat the slices thoroughly.
Place 1/4 of the zucchini in shaker bag; close bag and shake to evenly coat. Spread onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining zucchini.
Bake for 12 to 15 min. or until golden brown, rotating the baking tray halfway through the cooking time.
Remove the baked fries from the oven, and serve them with the fiesta dip. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Pina Colada Dipping Sauce

I have to confess something. Are you ready? Here goes: I could have eaten the entire tray of these things! Did I you ask? No...but trust me I did eat far too many. I really could have just taken a spoon and eaten the whole bowl of dip. Did I you ask? Well...let's just say that there was none left to throw away lol. You figure that one out on your own ;)
I'm not kidding when I tell you that these sweet potato fries dipped in this sauce, seriously tasted like a donut. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!
When my hubby first tasted them and said "these taste just like a donut" I kind of figured he was being sarcastic. But then I tasted it for myself and I was thinking "wow...he's not kidding." So next time you have a craving for a donut for dinner, try these out!
Recipe Source for the Sweet Potatoes: http://www.healthierhabits.org/post/54238353102/so-this-is-how-you-make-them-crispy-super-crispy

For the Sweet Potatoes: 

2 large sweet potatoes
Cornstarch
Olive Oil

Heat oven to 425°
Cut your sweet potatoes into french fry sticks. Try to get all the pieces approximately the same size as they will cook more evenly this way.
Place the cut sweet potatoes into a bowl of water. Soak them for 30-45 minutes.

Drain the water.
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with cornstarch. Use enough to have a light coating of cornstarch on all of the fries. 
Place the soaked fries on a cookie sheet that either has Parchment paper lining or has been well sprayed with Pam.
Drizzle the fries with olive oil.
Bake at 425° for 30- 45 minutes or until they are as crispy as you like them. Serve them plain or dip them in the following dipping sauce.

For the Dipping Sauce: 
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh pineapple, chopped finely
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coconut cream

Mix all ingredients together until blended well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Banana Chocolate Muffins

These muffins have two of my favorite ingredients. Now if they just had peanut butter in them, it would be all 3 of my favorites. I guess it's a good thing they didn't, because I'm not sure I would have refrained from eating them all. As it was, it was hard enough. I am still trying to watch what I am eating...and I don't mean watching it go into my mouth haha! I took one bite of my daughters, just for quality control purposes. Yes, I will keep telling myself that story.... that someone has got to do quality control for me and who better than me? That's my story and I'm stickin to it! :)
Recipe Source: http://www.kitchentreaty.com/chocolate-banana-marble-muffins/

2 cups flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with a half a lemon squeezed into it and allowed to sit for 15 min or more)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or butter (or spray with Pam) the pan thoroughly if you do not want to use liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, mash the bananas, then whisk in the buttermilk, sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and whisk just until blended.
Remove one cup of the batter, and place it in a small bowl. Whisk in the cocoa powder, just until blended.
Divide the main (non-chocolate) batter between muffin cups. It’s about 1/4 cup of batter per cup.
Scoop 1 Tbsp of chocolate batter on top of the batter in each muffin cup.
Using a toothpick, swirl the chocolate batter into the banana batter.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for about five minutes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Latin Quinoa

Have you ever made a side dish that you actually want to eat as your entire meal? This was the side dish that made me want to do that. Although, I loved my dinner, I seriously wanted to forsake everything else on my plate and wallow in this quinoa. The crunch of the pine nuts and the acidity from the lime juice, made this quinoa so good. Of course, anything with Latin flavors is bound to knock my socks off. Thankfully, I live in So Cal, so trust me, even in the dead middle of winter, if my socks get knocked off, it's still NOT cold! ;)

Recipe Source: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/recipecomdetail.jsp?recipeId=25113181

1 cup  quinoa, toasted, see note below
2 tsp   canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1/4 cup  pine nuts, toasted (see note below)
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 large lime, juiced
1/4 tsp salt
1. Toast quinoa in a large dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until it crackles and becomes aromatic, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly. Set aside. 

2. To toast pine nuts: place them in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside..
3.  Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chiles and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the quinoa and broth. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, then cover and cook until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Add pine nuts, cilantro, green onions, lime juice and salt to the quinoa. Mix gently and fluff with a fork.


Mozzarella and Pesto Panini

If my hubby did not want meat every night with dinner, I could very easily become a vegetarian. This sandwich proved it to me again. Every bite was so amazing and completely satisfying. Since he wants meat, I will just sneak in dinners like this once in awhile for a surprise. He really did enjoy it, but I'm sure he would have enjoyed it more, with a hunk of chicken or beef in it! Oh yeah, come to think of it, I'm actually sure I could NEVER give up sushi! But honestly, I could probably eat this sandwich 3 nights a week and be content.
2 slices sourdough bread
2-3 fresh tomato slices
Pesto sauce
Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper * Optional

Spread Pesto sauce on both sides of the bread. You can use as much or as little as you would like, depending on how much pesto flavor you would like to come through in your sandwich.

Add cheese slices on top of the pesto sauce. Layer tomato slices on top of the cheese. If you want to add crushed red pepper to your sandwich, then shake some of it over the tomato slices.

Place the other bread slice on the top. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the bread. Grill on your panini press until the cheese is completely melted and the bread is golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rice Krispy Treat Pumpkins

These rice krispy treat pumpkins turned out adorable if I do say so myself. What fun they were to  make also. I loved the bright orange coloring on them and the tootsie roll stem just makes me smile. I love Fall and I love baking fall goodies! So if you want an easy treat to take to work or just to share with family or friends, this one would be highly recommended by me.
Thanks to http://www.idigpinterest.com/2013/09/pumpkin-krispies-treats.html  for this cute idea!

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
orange food coloring, (or mix yellow and red food coloring according to pkg directions- to create orange)
5 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispys
Tootsie Roll Midgees (mini tootsie rolls)
A pat of butter (to use on hands to keep them from sticking)

 In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add vanilla extract and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are completely melted. Add food coloring until desired orange color is reached. Add Rice Krispys and stir until completely combined. Turn off heat and let sit for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle. (These actually roll better when they are cooled off, but don't let them cool too much or they are a little tough to form)
When mixture is cooled, spread a very tiny amount of butter onto your hand and roll a handful of the mixture to form a pumpkin shape. Unwrap a tootsie roll and shape into the stem. (you can soften a few tootsie rolls in the microwave first, but only for a second or two, they melt fast!)
You will need to "rebutter" your hands before shaping each pumpkin!
Let them cool and serve.

Halloween Finger Cookies

This sure gives new meaning to the words "Finger Food". They look so gross, that I can't actually even imagine eating one. I saved some to take to the high school I work at tomorrow and I'm quite sure that high schoolers will have absolutely no problem devouring these, as gross as they are!
My youngest daughter was visiting today. She wanted to make some Halloween goodies to take to her friends. It was quite nice to have someone else be able to drive to the store and get all the stuff to bake. So while she ran to the grocery store, I started baking cupcakes (which will be in one of the next couple of posts). We had so much fun making these and it was quite hilarious to listen to us making them. As we were putting the "nails" on the fingers, we were both laughing and saying "that's so disgusting"! But we made it through and I do believe she even ate a couple ;)
1 box sugar cookie mix ( Don't buy the refrigerated tube kind, they spread too much while baking)
2 egg whites
Sliced almonds
cinnammon
cocoa powder
red food gel in the squeeze tube

Make the cookie dough according to the package directions. Be sure to use the directions for "cut out" cookies, not the rolled cookie directions.

When the dough is done, begin to roll the fingers. Take a small amount of dough and roll it between your palms. (kind of like when you were a kid and would make play dough worms). Try not to make them too long and make them A LOT skinnier than you want them to be in the end, because they do "puff" while baking.

After you have the finger, place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Pinch the portion just above where the knuckle would be and just below it. Take a knife and make little lines into the knuckle portion of the finger. You don't have to go way deep, but it definitely needs to be cut!

After you have cut all the knuckles, use a pastry brush and brush egg white onto each cookie. This helps the browning process.

Next, place an almond piece into the tip of the finger to form the fingernail. Push it into the dough slightly.

Mix the cinnamon and cocoa together. No particular amounts, but definitely heavier on the cinnamon than the cocoa. (Here is where the orignal recipe said to go ahead and bake the cookie and put the cinnamon on after they are baked). I mixed the cinnamon/cocoa mixture and lightly dusted it onto each knuckle and fingernail edge before I baked them. I think next time, I will wait until after to put the cinnamon/cocoa on them.

So decide if you will dust the fingers before or after they are baked and do so accordingly. Let cool. If you want to put blood on the fingernails, just squeeze a tiny amount of red gel around the fingernail area.
Bake according to package directions. Check them frequently so they don't burn or turn too brown.

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

Pizza without all the carbs? Yes please! This is such an easy way to get all the pizza flavor with less calories and so much healthier. I only used Parmesan on mine, because I am trying to cut down on fats, but you could load this baby  up with Mozarella cheese and I'm sure it would only add to the yumminess of it! I loved how quick this was to throw together and after a day of baking Halloween goodies with  my daughter, I sure needed something quick, yet tasty.
 3 Large Portobello Mushrooms
Pizza sauce
 2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Roma Tomatoes, chopped (or any other medium sized tomato)
1/2- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt to taste
Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
6 or 7 leaves of chopped Basil

Heat oven to 400°

Wash your mushrooms thoroughly and twist/pull out the stems. Lay the mushrooms out on a paper towel, cap side up, to drain of any excess water.

In a skillet, heat the 2 Tbsp olive oil. When hot, add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft. (You don't want them completely mushy....just crisp tender). Stir in the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are somewhat soft also. Stir and season with crushed red pepper flakes and salt.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large baking dish and spread it all over the bottom of the dish.

Using a spoon, place as much  pizza sauce as you desire into your mushroom. (I didn't list an amount because this is such a personal preference. I LOVE pizza sauce so I used about 3 Tbsp on each mushroom) Spread it around. Now fill each mushroom with the filling that is warm on the stove, until it is all gone.
Place each stuffed mushroom into the oiled baking dish. Top each mushroom with Parmesan cheese and basil. Bake at 400° for about 10- 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and they are heated through.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Green Chili and Chicken Stew

For the first time in a very long time, it was cool enough outside, a few days ago, to warrant making "good ole" comfort food. I am longing for the days when it feels good to stoke up the oven, instead of causing me to sweat profusely and crank up the air conditioner even more. Those days don't happen all that often here in Southern Cali! So when they do, you bet I get excited about cooking even more than normal. Soup just sounded so good and I knew I had the ingredients on hand to make this recipe. This one is a keeper and I say "bring on more cool days" so I can make this again!
Recipe Source: http://www.insockmonkeyslippers.com/tag/green-chili-stew




1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large can diced green chilies
 1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 bag dry Northern white beans, rinsed
9 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup corn (I used frozen corn that had been thawed)

 salt/pepper to taste
1 cup warm milk
2 Tbsp Masa
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Fresh lime and Avocado, for garnishes
(original recipe stated that sour cream and jack cheese are good garnishes also)





In a large stock pot, saute onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil, until soft. Add green chilies, serrano pepper and rinsed beans. Add the chicken broth cumin and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour and then add the cooked, shredded  chicken and the corn. Cover again and simmer for 1more hour or until beans are completely soft and tender. Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper as needed.

In a bowl, combine the warm milk and masa. Stir well. Then pour into the stew. Stir well and cook for 10 more minutes, uncovered. Add cilantro, stir and serve with fresh lime juice and avocado slices.



Grilled Ginger and Sesame Chicken Salad

Who doesn't love a light, refreshing Asian salad? I know this girl sure does. I wanted to make something light and low calorie tonight for dinner. This salad fit that bill. I have never used black sesame seeds before and they definitely have a little different taste than their light counterpart. I liked them though. They added, not only color, but a little different taste and a nice crunch! I guess Fall days in Southern California aren't so bad, if I can keep making salads like this!
Recipe Source: http://menumusings.blogspot.com/2013/05/grilled-ginger-sesame-chicken-salad.html

For two salads:

Marinade and Dressing:

1/8 cup  soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp salt
 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup finely chopped green onions

Marinade and dressing -
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
2 small chicken breasts

Salad:

1/2 head Napa Cabbage, sliced thinly
1 carrot, julienned
2 green onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/2  tsp black sesame seeds, toasted

To toast sesame seeds:
Place sesame seeds in a hot dry skillet. Stir them continually and toast on med/high heat for just a couple minutes until you see them start to turn golden. Remove from heat. With the black sesame seeds, just toast for the same amount of time, they will darken just a bit.


To make the marinade:
Whisk together the soy sauce, ginger, olive oil, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sriracha and salt. Place the 2 chicken breasts in a gallon ziplock bag and add 2 Tbsp of the marinade mixture to the bag. Set the rest o fhe marinade mixture aside. (make sure you do no allow the rest of the marinade mixture to touch any of the raw chicken as it will be used to make the dressing). Squish the marinade around over the chicken and place the bag of chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to marinade.

To make the dressing:
To the reserved marinade, add in the red wine vinegar and green onions. Place in the refrigerator until ready to put on the salad.

To make the chicken:
Grill the chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill until it is cooked through. Let the chicken rest after cooking, before slicing it, to retain the juiciness of it. When it has rested about 10 minutes, slice into thin slices. 

To assemble the salad:

On your salad plates, add the cabbage, carrots, green onions, cilantro and chicken. Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad and then garnish with almonds, sesame seeds and black sesame seeds. 

Lemon Parmesan Asparagus

Isn't it amazing that as you get older, you begin to love the vegetables that you used to turn your nose up to? I have loved eating asparagus for a very long time (this should be your first clue that I am getting very old) and it amazes me that my 3 year old grand daughter will also eat it. I know I wouldn't have at that age. Maybe she will have a much  more open minded pallet than I did.
This asparagus dish has just the right amount of "tang" from the lemon, crunch from the asparagus and that oh so yummy Parmesan cheese flavor!
Recipe Adapted From: http://twolovesstudio.com/2013/04/30/olive-oil-lemon-parmesan-asparagus/

1 bunch asparagus
Lemon Infused Olive Oil
1/2 fresh lemon
Zest from 1/2 a lemon
Parmesan Cheese
salt/pepper to taste

You can either roast or steam your asparagus.
If you roast it: Preheat oven to 400° Place asparagus in a large baking pan and drizzle 1 Tbsp of water over the top. Roast for 15-30 minutes, depending how crunchy you like your asparagus.
If you steam it: Place asparagus in vegetable steamer over boiling water and cook until asparagus is crisp tender..

Once asparagus is cooked, remove from the pan and drizzle lemon scented olive oil over it. Squeeze half a lemon over the asparagus. Sprinkle the lemon zest, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper over the top. Serve warm.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Chicken and Fruit Salad with Banana Dressing

Clearly it's Fall, when my nephew's girlfriend that lives in Oregon, posts that they are having the first fire of the season,  in the fireplace. After reading her post, I began to think of good old winter comfort foods. A few passed through my brain, such as: chili, chicken and dumplings, soup etc etc. Then I looked down and realized that I was in capri pants and a tank top. Also, I was too warm to be thinking of these kinds of foods. Clearly, Southern California has not gotten the Fall weather memo yet! Ok, Ok, it could just be that hot flashes now keep me in a permanent state of "summer" ;)
Whatever the cause, I knew that tonight's dinner would have to be of the light and refreshing variety. I scanned my Pinterest boards and this one caught my eye. Wow, I'm so glad it did.. This was super light, wonderfully refreshing and I can see this being a great "go to" summer lunch or dinner meal!
Recipe Adapted From: http://www.chindeep.com/2012/06/25/st-james-hotels-california-chicken-salad-with-creamy-banana-dressing/

For 2 Salads:
2 grilled chicken breasts
Spinach leaves
Spring Salad Mix
1/2 cantaloupe, chopped into chunks
Several red grapes
1 large, ripe banana, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced
1/4 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

On two dinner plates, place the spinach leaves and the spring salad mix. You want enough of a bed of greens to place all the chicken and fruit on.
Place one sliced grilled chicken breast in the center of the greens, on each plate. 
Place an equal amount on the fruit on each plate, surrounding the chicken breasts. 

To make the creamy banana dressing:
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/6 cup brown sugar (or 2 and 2/3 Tbsp)
juice of 1/4 lemon

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend until pureed and creamy. Serve on top of the salads.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Roasted Corn with Spicy Cilantro Butter and Lime

Both of my girls did not like corn when they were growing up. Now one of them really likes it and the other still won't eat it. Well...the one that likes it, was here tonight for dinner. While my grand daughter was taking a nap, we decided to make  this corn for nice side dish to go with our meat tonight. Boy, I'm glad we made this, because it was really delicious! I think next time I make it, I will try to make it even a little spicier. My motto is: You can't get food spicy enough EVER!! So if you  want to tone down the spice, you could omit the cayenne pepper, but if you want to kick it up a notch, add some more!
Recipe Adapted From:
http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/08/roasted-corn-with-cilantro-butter.html


5 ears of corn, husks on 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature 
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped 
1/8 tsp ancho chili powder
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt/pepper to taste

2 limes, cut into halves for squeezing on the corn
Heat oven to 350°. 
Place the corn, with the husks still on, into the heated oven on the middle rack. Bake for 30 minutes. 
While the corn is roasting, mix in a small bowl, the butter, cilantro, ancho chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Mix together with a fork until the ingredients are all distributed evenly throughout the butter. Set aside. 
Remove the corn from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. This will cool it down enough for you to remove the husks. Carefully remove the husks and the corn silk.

Spread some of the cilantro butter onto each corn cob and squeeze fresh lime juice over the corn. Enjoy!!



Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread

I have a confession. While this bread was baking, I wanted to go and stick my head into the oven. No, I do NOT have a suicide wish. I just could not stop wanting to open the oven door and smell this bad boy! If I could have, I would  have crawled all the way into my oven and eaten this with a fork, before it was even done. But I was a good girl and I waited until it was actually finished cooking. Then, I was an even better girl and only tasted one of the smallest bites you could imagine. I served this to my family though and it got rave reviews!  It's so easy to put together and it's faster than making rolls from yeast, (which I actually love to do)!

 Recipe Adapted From:
http://www.amandathevirtuouswife.com/2012/03/garlic-parmesan-pull-apart-bread.html



1 can of refrigerated Grands biscuits (not the flaky layers)
1/2 stick of butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder

 Preheat the oven to 350°
Throw the cold 1/2 stick of butter in a bundt pan and let it melt in the preheating oven.
While the butter melts, cut the biscuits into quarters and set aside.
In a bowl, toss the biscuit pieces, minced garlic, Parmesan cheese,
Italian Seasoning and garlic powder together.  
Once the butter is melted in the Bundt pan, place the biscuit pieces into the butter. You may need to put some on top of others to get them all in there. Sprinkle any leftover herb/cheese mixture that gets left behind in the bowl, onto the top of the biscuit pieces in the bundt pan.   
Bake at 350°  for 20- 22 minutes until golden brown. Turn out onto a serving dish and serve warm.