Monday, December 24, 2012

Almond Chocolate Fudge

I'm sneaking all these sweets in before our New Year's resolutions. :)  Plus this is a must!  Is Christmas complete without a bit of fudge?  I have made it a couple times, and this has been my favorite recipe so far.  Super easy and I like the texture and richness of the cream cheese.  I made this again with white chocolate and I sprinkled crushed candy-canes on the top.  It was cute.  Got to love a recipe you can play around with.

Almond Chocolate Fudge
1 teaspoon butter
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Dash salt
1/4 cup slivered Almonds (or other nut)

Line a 9-in. square pan with foil and grease the foil with butter; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. (I never noticed it get "fluffy"- I found that a little confusing.  Maybe they meant creamy?) Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Beat in the melted chocolate, extract and salt until smooth. 
Spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle and press almonds over the top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or until firm. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Gently peel off foil; cut fudge into 1-in. squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: 2-1/2 pounds.

Nutritional Facts:  1 piece equals 49 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1/2 fat.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Easy Crispy Peanut Butter Balls


I went "nuts" with these guys, gained 5 lbs. and now we're through. :)  It was true love while it lasted though.  A happy addition to any holiday goodie plate.  Super easy to make!  The kids had fun helping me shape the balls.  I served some of them chocolate dipped and some not... quite frankly because chocolate and I do not always get along- it is way to finicky.   Most of what I melted was made into fudge because it just wouldn't cooperate even with a double boiler... But I would say that isn't necessarily a bad thing. :)  So loosen that belt and help yourself. :)  Happy Holidays!

Easy Crispy Peanut Butter Balls
2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 c. butter
1 lb. confectioners' sugar
3 c. Rice Krispies
Dipping chocolate

(Creamy peanut butter is just as good, but add 1/4 cup more Rice Krispies if you use creamy.)
Combine peanut butter, butter and confectioners sugar in large bowl. Blend well. Add rice cereal. Form into 3/4 inch balls and dip into dipping chocolate. Makes about 75 or more balls. Great for holiday gifts.
Proof of my poor dipping abilities... oh well.  Don't judge a person by how they dip chocolate, please. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nanaimo Bars

You know I love food, but have I ever mentioned how much I love to devour... books?  Good food, good books... I could die happy.  I usually have to find the audio version or I'll never get through it with the FREQUENT kid-interruptions.  It is a fantastic motivator for doing dishes!  You know I'm in the middle of a good book when I have no dishes in my sink... or sometimes it can have the opposite effect and I'm cooking and baking everything, all over the place; I won't leave the kitchen, because I have to finish the book. (I'm embarrassed to admit Harry Potter did that to me.)
I am part of such a delightful book group.  I love these ladies dearly!  We talk books, we laugh and cry together... then we eat Nanimo Bars. (Well, not every time, we just happened to be lucky enough to have our Canadian friend, Melinda hosting, and she whipped these up; which, after examining the recipe, was no small feat!)  They are quite delicious- I liked the little creamy layer.  They were saying you can find that vanilla custard powder at most grocery stores.
Happy reading... I mean eating. :)

*A little history, thanks to Wikipedia:

The Nanaimo bar is a dessert item of Canadian origin popular across North America. It is a bar cookie which requires no baking and is named after the West Coast city of NanaimoBritish Columbia. It consists of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of light vanilla or custard flavored butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares. Many varieties exist, consisting of different types of crumb with different flavors of icing (e.g.,mintpeanut butter) and different types of chocolate. Two popular variations on the traditional Nanaimo bar involve mint- or mocha-flavored icing.

Nanaimo Bars  


Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Middle Layer:
1/4 cup butter, room temp.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 - 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 cups confectioners (icing) sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird's) or vanilla pudding powder

Top Layer:
5 ounces semisweet chocolate


Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with a single sheep of parchment paper, leaving enough room that you can grab the paper on two sides so you can lift the bars out when they are finished. This makes it MUCH easier to cut.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Middle Layer: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Then, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water (or a double boiler if you have one), melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or just until the chocolate has set.

When the bars are sufficiently chilled, lift the parchment paper and put on a large cutting board. Remove the paper. To cut the bars, press down on the bars with a sharp knife.

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup dried coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Do not use a sawing motion. From time to time, rinse your knife under hot water and dry quickly with a paper towel. You will get much cleaner edges by pressing instead of sawing.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Make it {Ginger} Snappy... (White Chocolate Dipped GingerSnaps)

I was just about to post a fish taco recipe, and then I started thinking... "HELLO!  It's December!  What am I doing messing with fish?  It's time to get festive!"  So what is more festive than some good old fashioned gingersnaps, I ask you? (Which--for your information--taste even better dipped in white chocolate... doesn't everything? :)  These went on our neighbor plates. (Although I didn't have the patients to dip them all. :)
Fish later. :) Merry Christmas NOW!
*This was a quick and easy recipe that make a bunch, (It says 14 1/2 dozen- SERIOUSLY? Is that a typo? I don't think it made quite that many- maybe I made mine too big... that is A LOT of gingersnaps.  Anyway- I was going to say, this is a good recipe, but I've tasted better... I just can't remember where I put the other recipe, so what you see is what you get. :)

Dipped Gingersnaps (Taste of Home)
2 cups Sugar
1-1/2 cups canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Additional Sugar
2 packages (10 to 12 ounces each) white baking chips
1/4 cup shortening

In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil. Beat in eggs. Stir in molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Shape into 3/4-in. balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until cookie springs back when touched lightly. Remove to wire racks to cool.
In a microwave, melt chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip cookies halfway into the melted chips; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Yield: about 14-1/2 dozen.

Nutritional Analysis:
2 cookies equals 128 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 6 mg cholesterol, 93 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein.
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lemon Zest-Herb Breaded Fish Fillet

If wishes were fishes, we'd all have a fry!  And if fry were this good, we would have another. :)  I "wish" fish wasn't so darn expensive and I would have it more often.  I love to check the reduced section for fish- you have to be careful because fish gets stinky fast, so make sure your menu plan is flexible, because you buy it, and you are having fish for dinner. :)  Such was the case with us.  I came up with my own little recipe for these, and it turned out pretty good.  The process was very similar to Chicken Milanese.

*Lyd's Tip:  I made a little bigger batch, and we had just enough left over for Fish Tacos the next day. (Recipes Coming.)

Lemon Zest-Herb Breaded Fish Fillet
4-5 fish fillets (like tilapia, orange roughy, snapper, etc)
Zest & Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup bread crumbs
1 T dried parsley
Salt & Pepper
1-2 eggs, beaten
1/4 flour
oil for cooking

Set up a standard breading procedure in 3 wide deep plates. Fill 1 with flour, 1 with the beaten eggs, and 1 with the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and parsley. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Using one hand for dry things and 1 hand for wet things, take each piece of chicken through the breading procedure: dredge lightly in the flour, then the egg wash and then through the bread crumbs. Lay the breaded fish a plate or tray.

Heat a large pan with enough oil to cover the bottom.  When warm, add breaded fish.  Cook each side for a few minutes until fish is flaky.  Add a little lemon juice while cooking.  Serve warm.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fresh Peach Dessert

Oh- I know I'm a little late for peaches... it's almost Christmas for pete's sake!  I am obviously behind and this post has been patiently waiting, but it was a MUST POST, so I didn't want to forget... and how could I?  It was heavenly!  Too heavenly to wait to be "in season" again. :)

Fresh Peach Dessert (My Most Delicious Dishes)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4-1 cup butter, softened
2 pkg. graham crackers; crushed
12-14 medium peaches or 7-8 large; peeled & sliced
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pt. whipping cream (I don't use it all, maybe 3/4 of it)

Mix cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, & butter. Save a small amount to sprinkle on top, press the rest into the bottom of a glass 9 x 13 pan. Whip the cream and add a little vanilla and powdered sugar until set, set aside. Mix the sweetened condensed milk with lemon juice. Then place the peaches on the crust and pour the milk/lemon mixture on top. Spread the fresh cream on top of that and sprinkle with remaining crust. Refrigerate.

*This is so light and fresh, but you have to share it or half it because it is best if enjoyed in the first 24 hours!
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fast Break for Breakfast...

My children go to a great school, and one of their focuses is on good nutrition.  For school lunch, they contract with an awesome catering company that focus on home-cooked, fresh, local, healthy food as much as possible.  They recently sent out this article and I thought it had some great breakfast ideas worth posting, so I'm passing it along.

"Whether or not children eat breakfast affects their learning, but so does what they eat. Children who eat a breakfast containing both complex carbohydrates and proteins in equivalent amounts of calories end to show better learning and performance than children who eat primarily a high protein or a high carbohydrate breakfast. Think grains, plus nuts, dairy or meat, plus fruits.

Breakfasts high in carbohydrates with little protein seem to sedate children rather than stimulate their brain to learn. Think sugared cereals, plus pop-tarts, plus juice.

High-protein foods perk up the brain by increasing levels of two “alertness” neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine. A high-protein meal really is a “power breakfast” or a “power lunch.”

Like the structural steel of buildings and the metal meshwork in concrete, proteins provide the framework for every cell of the body. Just as workers at a construction site need a steady supply of building materials, tissues undergoing repair and those that are growing need a steady supply of protein to build and rebuild organs, muscles, antibodies, hormones, and enzymes - every kind of cell in the body.

Examples of balanced breakfasts include:

     1. Scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice
     2. Cheese melted on toast with a piece of fruit
     3. Peanut butter and banana slices on an english muffin, milk
     4. Whole-grain waffle, sausage link, orange slices
     5. Oatmeal with sliced almonds, raisins, cinnamon and milk
     6. multi grain toast with sun-butter spread and blueberries
     7. Granola cereal, plain yogurt, a sliced apple
     8. Veggie omelet, bran muffin, fruit with yogurt
     9. Whole-grain toast, bacon slice, fruit
     10. Whole-grain pancakes or waffles topped with berries and/or yogurt, milk
     11. Whole-wheat zucchini pancakes topped with fruit, milk
     12. French Toast topped with fruit, orange juice or milk
     13. Cream cheese on a whole-grain bagel, orange juice
     14. Cashews, whole grain bagel, fruit
15. Turkey and avocado slices rolled in a whole grain tortilla

Of course, it’s what you eat not what you say that impresses a child most. By treating yourself to a healthy, balanced breakfast, you model to your children that eating a healthy breakfast gives the whole family a smart nutritional start.

And if you aren’t a breakfast eater, how about a smoothie? All kinds of combinations of fruit, yogurt, nut butters, avocado, can quickly be made into a fast (and portable) breakfast.

Maybe your kids would enjoy making up their own breakfast smoothie recipes!? Send us your successes and flops and we’ll have fun sharing them here.

Here’s our recent family favorite, the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

     1 cup Vanilla yogurt
     3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
     1 banana
     1 cup peaches
     Cinnamon to taste

Here are a few links to other breakfast smoothie drinks:

4 recipes for High-protein smoothies

School-ade breakfast smoothie

Mango Smoothie

Most of all we hope that eating a high protein breakfast will give you, your kids and their teachers a successful and enjoyable morning."

By Amy Driggs,
On behalf of the School Wellness Committee
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