because what is life without good food?

Candy

Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bites

Chocolate craving! Time for something chocolatey good. With nuts. Yes LOTS of nuts. Oh and some peanut butter. Dried fruit in there … ah yes. And to add a little bit more healthy yumminess, some oats.

Roll it all into a little ball and what do you have? A quick, healthy snack. Not one you want to eat a LOT of at one sitting because they are a bit calorific, but something you can grab on the go when you need a little energy, especially before or after a good workout. An energy byte! (Terrible geeky pun intended.)

I like to eat one of these for a bit of dessert after a good meal, or when I am running out the door and need something fast to grab for a quick bit of energy. Or when you need a quick chocolate fix, but you don’t want to totally destroy your healthy eating plan. A little bit of chocolate and a few nuts every day are very good for your health.

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

You could use a good quality dark chocolate in place of the almond bark and cocoa powder. I just didn’t have enough on hand, so I decided to make my own “chocolate”!

  • 2 squares of almond bark (or white chocolate)
  • 4 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chocolate PB2 powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup nuts (I used a mix of peanuts and cashews)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into bits
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Melt the almond bark in a medium mixing bowl in the microwave by microwaving on high for 1 minute, stir, microwave for 30 seconds, stir again, keep microwaving for 30 seconds/stirring until the white almond bark is completely melted.
  2. Stir in the dark cocoa powder, PB2 powder, vanilla and peanut butter and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the oats, nuts, cranberries and apricot bits until everything is coated in chocolate. Form the mixture into balls and set on a tray. Sprinkle the bytes with a bit of coarse sea salt.
  4. Set it in the fridge until the chocolate is set, then transfer to a covered storage container. You can store these at room temperature or in the fridge, as you prefer. I like to eat them at room temperature so I’m not bothering to refrigerate mine. They aren’t going to last that long anyway!

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Nut BloghopShare it SaturdayLunch Box Linky and Scrumptious Sunday.


Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

One of my girlfriends, when she tasted these truffles, told me (in a quiet voice so the “boys” wouldn’t hear) that these truffles are almost better than sex. I laughed, and she said, “I’m serious!” … since then, a couple of my other girlfriends have confirmed her opinion … and I’m quite curious to see what my male friend says about them. He better hurry though, or he is totally going to miss these truffles!

There is a story behind this recipe … I started out to make brownie bites for the party, baking them in my mini-muffin tin. The first batch I put raspberries in the middle of the brownies and I undercooked them. They tasted really good, but they were just too gooey to eat. I didn’t want to throw them out … what a waste of good chocolate that would be!

So I decided to make my brownies into truffles. And while I was thinking about how to do this, I was chatting with my friend online … he had just gone to the vending machine to find something to eat:

Me: so what did you find to eat?
Him: Peanuts and Coke.
Me: lol peanuts are good
Him: I needed some fluids and sugar. I was getting the shakes really bad.
Me: Shakes are not good …
… unless they’re chocolate
Him: Chocolate and raspberry

Something about him saying “chocolate and raspberry” in the context of a milkshake while I was in the midst of figuring out how I was going to make my chocolate/raspberry truffles made me think “raspberry cream” … and that’s how they got the raspberry cream center.

Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

  • 1/3 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen … if you are using fresh, pack them into the cup a bit … thaw out the frozen ones before adding them)
  • 8 oz light cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rose vodka or Chambord (raspberry liqueur) … (optional)
  • 2/3 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1 2/3 cups brownie “crumbs” (about 10 brownie bites) … mine wouldn’t exactly make crumbs. I just broke them into small pieces as best I could. I do recommend you undercook your brownies just a bit so they are a little soft and gooey for the truffles.  Here’s the brownie recipe I used.
  • 1 1/3 cups crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs, ground into a fine powder in a handi chopper or food processor (if you can’t find chocolate graham crackers, just crush up some chocolate cookies)
  • For dipping: 2 high quality chocolate bars (4-oz. each) … (I used Ghirardelli)

Directions:

  1. First, make the raspberry cream: mix the raspberries with the cream cheese, honey, vanilla and liquor. Divide this creamy berry mixture in half, putting half of it in a container in the fridge for later.
  2. In a small microwave-safe bowl or double boiler, melt the chocolate chips. (Microwave on high for one minute, stir, then microwave 30 seconds, stir … repeat until you can stir out all the lumps of chocolate.)
  3. Mix the rest of the cream mixture with the melted chocolate chips, the brownie “crumbs”, and the chocolate graham cracker crumbs. Cover the bowl and set in the freezer for an hour or so to chill or in the fridge for several hours.
  4. When the chocolate “dough” is good and cold, it’s time to form the truffles! Choose a cookie sheet or other flat pan that will fit in your freezer. Take a small spoonful of the dough and shape it into a little cup in your hands. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of the raspberry cream mixture into the cup, then add a little more chocolate “dough” on top to cover the cream and form it into a ball shape. Set the ball on the pan and repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. Somehow I came out just about right … there was enough cream and chocolate to make a bunch of truffles (I’m not quite sure how many there were, though.) Don’t worry if the cream isn’t covered all the way or if some of the balls are bumpy. We’re going to dip these in chocolate anyway.
  5. Put the balls into the freezer and let them chill for several hours or overnight.
  6. When you are ready to dip your truffles, prepare an area to set them by laying out some waxed paper. I like to put them on a cookie sheet so it is easy to move them or stick them in the fridge if I need to (which is sometimes necessary on a hot day like it was the day I was making these!).
  7. Break the chocolate bars into pieces and melt in the microwave or over a double boiler, taking care to melt just till the chocolate is smooth and no longer. Dip each ball in the chocolate, rolling it around with a spoon to cover all the sides. I then stuck a toothpick in the ball and shook it a little (so there’s some chocolate left for the rest of the truffles!) and then put it on the waxed paper, sliding the toothpick out when quickly before the chocolate sets up. You can use the spoon to remove it too, or your fingers … no matter how you do it, it’s going to be a little messy (but hey, who doesn’t like to be covered in chocolate?).
  8. Once you’ve dipped all the truffles, let them sit until the chocolate is set. You may need to put them in the fridge to get the chocolate to set up … once it is set, transfer the truffles into a covered container to store in the fridge.

Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

This recipe was shared at Foodie FridaysScrumptious Sundays, and Made it by Monday.


Chocolate Peanut Butter BonBons

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

Craving. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Nagging, nagging. Helllooooo. Chocolate. NEED Chocolate! Peanut butter. Mmm. Peanut butter. Nagging. Craving. Peanut Butter. Chocolate. CHOCOLATE!

Bonbons … Mmm. Bonbons. Yes. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Yes, yes, yes. Ah! Better.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

I feed my cravings with high quality ingredients and then I also try to lighten up my favorite decadent treats.  If they taste really good, I find I don’t need to eat large quantities of them. These are sort of like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, except they’re healthier.

Chocolate Peanut Butter BonBons

Heavily adapted from Baby Gizmo Blog. To reduce the fat, I used PB2 in place of half of the peanut butter, which is a powdered form of peanut butter with 85% of the fat removed. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store (in the health food section), you can order it online.

  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (chocolate or regular … whatever you prefer/have on hand … I used a mix of both)
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal
  • 1/2 cup PB2 (chocolate or regular or a mix of both … I used half chocolate/half regular)
  • 1/4 cup fat free half & half
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light cream cheese
  • For dipping: good quality dark chocolate and mini chocolate chips … I am not sure how much I used because I grabbed some bar chocolate then added chips to it, but I would guess it would be about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chips plus a cup of mini chocolate chips
In a handi chopper or food processor, grind the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Pour them into a bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. Form the mixture into balls (makes about 24 or so), set the balls on a tray and set in the freezer for an hour or longer.
Set the mini chocolate chips in a separate bowl, then melt some dark chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. To melt it in the microwave, microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir, then microwave 30 seconds longer and stir again. If it’s still not melted, microwave another 30 seconds and stir.
Lay out a section of waxed paper on a baking pan to set the chocolates on once you’ve dipped them.
To dip the bonbons: roll a ball around in the melted chocolate with a spoon, then poke it with a toothpick and shake gently to remove some of the chocolate. Hold the ball by the toothpick over the bowl of mini-chops and sprinkle with mini chips, then set on the waxed paper. Let the bonbons sit until the chocolate is set (in the fridge, if needed). Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondaysManic Mondays, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Foodie Friends Friday and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Mocha Frangelico Surprise Truffles

and How I (almost) Killed My Ninja Chopper

Mocha Frangelico Date Surprise Truffles

I had a funny naming conversation with my (male) friend about these truffles … it went something like this:

Me:  Hey what do you think I should name those truffles?
Him:  Bob … or Robert
Me: LOL, you’re funny
Him: Wait, I guess they really should be called Hazel … but that seems contradictory …should be a boy’s name
Me: because they have nuts?
Him: Yep

The conversation deteriorated from there … we ended up with this name: “Surprise, Hazel has Nuts!” … which I thought was funny good. But then I had a thought afterwards … perhaps they could be “Date with a Nutty Monk” Truffles? … they are a bit like a Nutty Monk (the cocktail) and they have dates in them … so I’m going to let you choose whichever name you like.

I bought the Frangelico (a hazelnut liqueur) several weeks ago, intending to make some truffles. But I didn’t make them. I don’t know what was stopping me, maybe some other things just got in the way. Maybe it’s just too summery out there to think about things like truffles.  Maybe I had other sources to satisfy my chocolate cravings. I’ve got to be in the right mood to make truffles.

But then my chocolate supplies ran low. My chocolate peanut butter granola bars dwindled, my Godiva truffles were gone, my Dove chocolates disappeared … there was some chocolate cake …  but really, when I need chocolate, I need something more intense than cake.

So I set about to making my truffles finally. But I went about this all wrong. If you want to put dates in your truffles, you should SOAK the dates first so they are soft. If you don’t soak them, they could gum up your chopper and stress the motor and make you truly believe it died. My poor little chopper died that day … it wouldn’t whir at all, wouldn’t do anything. It came back the next day and has worked ever since, but I don’t think I really want to do that to it again … poor thing.

Mocha Frangelico Date Surprise Truffles

Mocha Frangelico Surprise Truffles

a.k.a. “Surprise! Hazel has Nuts!” Truffles,  “Bob”, or “Date with a Nutty Monk” Truffles

This is a slightly revised method from mine, so that you don’t kill your chopper like I did.

  • 1/4 cup frangelico (hazelnut) liqueur
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua (or homemade coffee liqueur)
  • 14 large dates
  • 8 chocolate graham crackers, crushed into a fine powder (about 1 1/2 cups crumbs)
  • 4 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 2 squares dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon high quality vanilla extract
  • About 27 whole hazelnuts, toasted (You will need 1 for the center of each truffle … so the number of nuts you need depends on how big you make your truffles)
  • 3/4  - 1 cup good quality dark chocolate chips (or a dark chocolate bar, broken into pieces), for dipping
  • Chopped hazelnuts, for dusting the tops

Chop the dates into hunks and soak them in the liqueur for 15 minutes or until the dates have softened up. Then put the mixture into your handi chopper or food processor and process until the dates are a fine paste. Mix the date/liqueur mixture with the crushed crackers, cream cheese, dark chocolate, and vanilla until smooth. Chill the mixture in the fridge or freezer until it’s stiff enough to form into balls.

Spray your hands with cooking spray, then take a nut and a small spoonful of the mixture and shape the chocolatey goodness completely around the little nut. Set on a baking tray sprayed with cooking spray. When you have formed all the mixture into balls, set the tray in the freezer to chill for at least a couple hours.

Melt the dipping chocolate and take the chocolate nut balls out of the freezer. Set out a sheet of waxed paper on a flat surface. Using a spoon, swirl each little truffle around in the melted chocolate, then set on the waxed paper and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Let set in a cool place until the dipping chocolate has set. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Share with your sweetie or your friends … or take them on a date with a nutty monk. ;)

Mocha Frangelico Date Surprise Truffles

This recipe was shared at I’m Lovin’ It and Weekend Potluck.


Chocolate Cherry Cabernet Talking Truffles

Chocolate Cherry Cabernet Talking Truffles

These truffles are very noisy. They keep talking to me. Waking me up in the middle of the night. Interrupting me while I’m trying to work.

Maybe they got lonely after I dipped them in chocolate on Friday evening, then we went away for the weekend, but my gosh, now they won’t STOP talking!

Hush you noisy things. Let me work. No, I can’t eat truffles all day long. I must have lunch sometime. And in the deep dark depths of night I should be SLEEPING for gosh sakes! I have to work in the morning!

No, I haven’t time for a truffle now … I have to run to the store … can’t you wait?

Gosh such pester-some truffles these are. So insistent on making me eat them! Are you sure you want them in your kitchen?

Chocolate Cherry Cabernet Talking Truffles

Yes, you do. You really do. With a nice glass of red wine. Honestly, right now I feel like I never want to live without them. I am savoring every little bite, slowly, deliberately, holding it on my tongue to make that creamy dark chocolate cherry taste last as long as I possibly can … they can just keep on talking …

Chocolate Cherry Cabernet Talking Truffles

Truffle Filling:

  • 2.5 oz. of good quality dark chocolate, melted (I used Ghirardelli 70% dark chocolate for the filling)
  • 5 chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup sour cherries, pitted (I thawed some cherries that my dad had frozen from his cherry tree … so they were kind of soft and small and squished down into the cup a lot. I suppose you could use sweet cherries as well, but I like the tartness with the dark chocolate … if you use fresh ones, you may want to increase the amount.)
  • 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup cabernet (I think it would also work well with shiraz or merlot or malbec or some other dark, dry red wine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (yes, trust me, the cayenne adds just a tiny bite that goes SO well with the chocolate, the wine, and the cherries …)
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 teaspoons of dark unsweetened cocoa powder

For dipping:

  • 1 and 1/4 bars of good quality dark chocolate, for dipping (I used Green & Black’s Organic 70% chocolate bars.)

Directions:

  1. First make the filling. Put the graham crackers in a handi chopper or food processor and process until they are powdered. Add the cherries and process until the cherries and crackers form a paste.
  2. Put the cherry mixture in a bowl and stir in the remaining filling ingredients. Cover the bowl and set it in the refrigerator (or set it outside if it’s frigid outside like it is here!) for a couple hours to chill well.
  3. Spray your hands with cooking spray and form the sticky mixture into balls. This is a little tricky and sticky, and you may have to wash your hands and re-apply the cooking spray a few times. (I am thinking I may have to invest in some truffle molds one of these days … ) Set them on a tray as you finish the balls.
  4. Chill the truffle filling balls in a freezer (or outside!) for at least a couple hours or overnight.
  5. Time for the dipping! Line a tray or baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt the dipping chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. To melt it in the microwave, break the chocolate into small chunks in a bowl. Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Stir. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. A lot. If it’s not melted yet, microwave another 30 seconds, then stir again.
  6. Carefully roll the truffle balls in the melted chocolate with a spoon, then set them gently on the waxed paper, leaving a little space between your truffles.
  7. Once the chocolate has set, transfer the truffles into a covered containers and store in the fridge, somewhere in the back. Set something in front of them to hide them because you might have a hard time resisting these little chocolates.

Chocolate Cherry Cabernet Talking Truffles

This recipe was shared at Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Totally Tasty TuesdaysIt’s a Keeper Thursdays, Tastetastic Thursdays and Full Plate Thursdays.


Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Valentine Truffles

Bailey's Irish Cream Valentine Truffles

The story of a love is not important – what is important is that one is capable of love. It is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity.”

~ Helen Hayes

Bailey's Irish Cream Valentine Truffles

Bailey’s Irish Cream Valentine Truffles

Makes 25 – 30 truffles. If you can’t find chocolate graham crackers, use chocolate cookies. These are dark chocolate truffles … if you prefer a lighter chocolate, eliminate the cocoa and cappuccino powder and use milk or semi-sweet chocolate in place of the dark chocolate.

For the Filling:

  • 9 chocolate graham crackers (4.8 oz.), crushed and finely ground into a powder
  • 4 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream (or homemade mocha cream liqueur)
  • 2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons of dark (dutch process) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla cappucinno powder
  • 2 squares of dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate … each square is 0.375 oz. or 10.6 g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Nutella

For dipping and hearts:

  • White almond bark or white chocolate chips & pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • Good quality dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cocoa … one 4 oz. chocolate bar plus an extra square or two)

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients for the filling until well blended. Cover and chill in a freezer for 30 minutes or longer or until the mixture has firmed up enough to form into balls, but it’s not yet frozen hard.
  2. Spray a cookie sheet and your hands with cooking spray and form the filling into balls about 3/4 inch in diameter, setting the balls on the cookie sheet with some space in between them so they don’t stick together. If your hands start getting sticky, rinse off all the gooey chocolate mixture, spray your hands and start again until you have all the filling formed into balls.
  3. Set the cookie sheet in the freezer on a flat surface … or, if you happen to live in the frigid north and it’s a particularly cold day outside  like it is here today, you can just set them outside to chill for a couple hours.
  4. (This step is optional … you can do a white chocolate drizzle much easier than the hearts, but I thought hearts would be nice for Valentine’s Day.) To make the white chocolate hearts, line another cookie sheet with a sheet of waxed paper. Melt a square of the white almond bark and put it in a ziploc bag. Snip off a small corner of the bag and pipe the white chocolate into heart shapes on the waxed paper. If you want, you can stick pomegranate seeds onto the hearts while they are still wet.
  5. Wait 15 – 30 minutes or so till the white chocolate has hardened, then carefully put one hand under the waxed paper and loosen the hearts from the paper, lifting each heart off the paper with your other hand and placing them on a plate.
  6. Set the waxed paper back on the cookie sheet.
  7. Once the chocolate truffle balls are cold and fairly firm, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl or double boiler. Using a spoon, swirl one ball at a time in the melted chocolate to cover it completely, then set carefully onto the waxed paper, taking care not to touch them with your hands. Immediately “glue” one of the white chocolate hearts onto the chocolate-covered truffle before dipping the next one (because the melted chocolate will harden fairly quickly). Set the cookie sheet in the refrigerator (or other safe cold place) until the chocolate is firm.
  8. Store the truffles in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Bailey's Irish Cream Valentine Truffles

This post is for #chocolatelove … powered by Linky Tools

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This recipe was also shared at Fabulous Valentine’s Ideas, a Valentine’s Day Blog HopEveryday Mom’s Church Supper, These Chicks Cooked Recipe SwapWeekend Potluck, and Katherine Martinelli’s St Patrick’s Day Blog Hop.


Ooh! Organic Chocolates from GreenCuisineList.com

GreenCuisineList Organic Chocolates & Brownies

I know I have mentioned how blessed I feel to have so many wonderful foodie friends. Nisreen from GreenCuisineList.com is one of them.  I love Nisreen because not only is she a talented cook and wonderful friend, she is a woman of character … she works hard to inform people about the importance of encouraging, promoting, and eating healthy and organic and taking care of our earth. When Nisreen asked me if I would be willing to do a review of her organic chocolates, I jumped at the chance. Everything (and I mean everything!) I have seen from Nisreen looks absolutely mouthwatering. Just visit her facebook page and check out her photos and you will see what I mean.

Cocoa and Brown Butter Brownies with Cinnamon and Cayenne

Cocoa and Brown Butter Brownies with Cinnamon and Cayenne

I thought I would be taken with the chocolates, but these brownies totally stole my heart.

Made from all-organic ingredients: butter, fair trade cocoa powder, vanilla, eggs, sugar, flour, Himalayan crystal salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, they have a moist, soft texture with a tiny crunch and a taste that is truly out of this world. There is just a hint of cayenne, enough to make you wonder “what is that interesting flavor?” The creamy, dreamy dark chocolate, with the browned butter shining through and the spices perfectly balancing out the taste … I am definitely in love with these brownies. I savored every last tiny crumb of these delicious little nuggets.

Cocoa and Brown Butter Brownies with Cinnamon and Cayenne

Ginger Snap Cookie Chocolate Cup

Ginger Snap cookie chocolate cup

Nisreen also sent me a sample of her Ginger Snap Cookie Chocolate Cups that have a fun sprinkle of ginger snaps on top and mixed throughout. You can taste the quality of the chocolate she uses in these chocolates, with a fun crunch of ginger snaps. Mmmm.

Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jelly cup

Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jelly cup

These organic chocolates have a beautiful swirl on top that made me wonder just what I would find inside. When you bite into them, you discover a lovely little pocket of peanut butter and blackberry jelly. I think I may have waited too long to eat them, because the peanut butter seemed a little dry, but I still thoroughly enjoyed  the amazing chocolate with the hint of PB&J flavor in these lovely creations.

Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jelly cup

Nisreen is also offering Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Cups for Valentine’s Day and I hear she makes some killer Baklava too. I noticed you can order the brownies and baklava from Nisreen’s SweetBoxTreats Etsy store … or contact Nisreen on her GreenCuisineList facebook page. You won’t be disappointed.

At the very least, you should pop by and “like” her page on facebook. The recipes she shares are just as fabulous as her chocolates!


Citruslove: Candied Kumquats & Kumquat Syrup

Candied Kumquats & Kumquat Syrup

For my birthday, my sweet aunt who lives in Florida, sent me a bunch of kumquats from her kumquat tree. Kumquats are something of a new experience for me … the first time I ever tasted them was at Christmas, at my parents’ house, and of course they were a bunch of kumquats from the same tree. I was so excited to have my very own box of kumquats to play with!

The rind of a kumquat is lightly sweet and the center is sour, so they are often eaten whole. I am not sure my palate could handle that kind of intensity, but I found I really love the sour-sweet taste of the juice in salad dressing and also thin slices of kumquat on a salad are quite welcome. Kumquats add a little citrus zing that almost tickles your tongue. They are small and a lovely orange-yellow in color.

Kumquats

When they arrived, a few of the kumquats were beginning to rot on one end, so I knew I had to do SOMETHING fast! Katherine Martinelli came to my rescue, graciously sharing some of her favorite kumquat recipes. This one was clearly the one to rectify my situation and save the precious half-kumquats. I’m not sure exactly how many of them I used in the recipe as they were parts of several kumquats, but the method worked beautifully. Thank you so much, Katherine.

Candied Kumquats & Kumquat Syrup

Recipe from Katherine Martinelli. I think the syrup would be wonderful over french toast or pancakes … or even for adding a tangy sweet taste to mixed drinks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 cups simple syrup* (I used 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar)
  • About 15 kumquats, sliced or chopped

Directions:

  • Put the kumquats and simple syrup in a small pot over medium heat.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce the heat; simmer for 10 – 25 minutes, stirring often.
  • The kumquats are done when the syrup is slightly thickened and sticks to the fruit. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kumquats to a clean glass jar.
  • Spoon a few tablespoons of simple syrup on top. Transfer the remaining syrup to another glass jar. Allow both to cool before sealing and refrigerating.

* To make simple syrup combine 1 part each water and sugar in a pot and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.

Candied Kumquats

This recipe was shared at Citruslove, Totally Tasty Tuesdays,  Midweek Fiesta and Tastetastic Thursdays.

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Midnight Peppermint Truffles

Midnight Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

This is my holiday gift to you, my dear readers. These truffles are dark as midnight inside, with tiny specks of peppermint. I wish I could send you each a tin of these to grace your holiday table, but I will have to settle for just giving you the recipe. These truffles are simple to make if you have a handi chopper or food processor to grind the crackers and candy canes, and they are so sweet and creamy and dark.

I was up way past midnight last night visiting with a very good friend … still I woke early and am anxious to see my wonderful family. I’m waiting to wake my children, though because before I go I want to get this holiday gift off to you and to thank you. When I started this blog in July, I never dreamed all the places it would take me and the amazing people I would meet along the way. I have seen and tasted so many things I never even dreamed of. I look forward to waking every morning to see what my foodie friends are creating and doing. You inspire me, cheer me on, lift me up when I am down, and I hope I do the same for you. If you are on facebook and you haven’t thought to click the “Like” button for Sumptuous Spoonfuls yet, I would love it if you would join our virtual community of foodie friends. The ideas you see on this blog are very often inspired by these sweet people.

Whatever you are celebrating this weekend, whether you are alone or with family, I am sending wishes for peace, love, and joy in your heart.

Midnight Peppermint Truffles

Midnight Peppermint Truffles

  • 1 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers, crushed until they are a fine powder
  • 1/4 – 3/8 cup creme de menthe liqueur or peppermint schnapps
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/8 cup of cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy canes (ground into a fine powder)
  • An 8 oz package of light cream cheese
  • Dark chocolate and/or white chocolate for dipping (1 used 1 ghirardelli 60% cocoa dark chocolate bar for about 2/3 of them, then 2 squares of almond bark for the rest.)
  • Extra crushed candy canes or crushed pretzels for dusting or rolling

Directions:

  1. Put the graham crackers, liqueur, peppermint extract, and crushed candy canes in a medium bowl and mix well.
  2. Mix in the cream cheese until the mixture is smooth. It will be soft and sticky.
  3. Form into small balls about 3/4 inch in diameter or so and stick in the freezer until they are firm.
  4. Melt the dipping chocolate in the microwave, stirring frequently (or on the stove) and dip each ball till covered.
  5. Decorate them as you please: I dusted some with crushed candy canes, drizzle dark chocolate with a bit of white chocolate (or vice versa), rolled some of them in crushed pretzels and others I rolled in the crushed candy canes. I think my favorite “finish” is the drizzle of white chocolate over the dark … but the crushed candy cane “dust” on top is also pretty.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Midnight Dark Chocolate and Peppermint Truffles

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondaysWonka WednesdaysFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Katherine Martinelli’s Mint Blog Hop and Fabulous Valentine’s Ideas.


Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Munch

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Munch

One of our favorite treats at Christmas is to dip pretzels. I like mine with white chocolate and peppermint. My daughter likes just white chocolate, or sometimes we will drizzle the white chocolate pretzels with milk chocolate or sprinkles.

I meant to make lots of treats to bring on my trip for my friends at the office, but I was running out of time. So I had to simplify.

This is so much faster than dipping all the pretzels individually. You just spread them in a pan, drizzle them with melted white almond bark, and then sprinkle with crushed candy canes. I threw in some chocolate graham cracker pieces. Result: the same sweet and salty, chocolate minty taste, but without all the work–and it’s a great way to use up broken graham crackers and pretzels.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Munch

Peppermint Pretzel Munch

  • Chocolate Graham Crackers, broken into pieces
  • Pretzels
  • Almond Bark (I used 6 squares for my batch)
  • Peppermint Candy Canes, crushed

Directions:

  1. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and lay out broken chocolate graham crackers randomly across the pan.
  2. Add the pretzels, interspersing amongst the crackers to create a blanket of crackers and pretzels.
  3. Melt the almond bark or white chocolate chips. I used a plastic spoon to stir them so I could make a peppermint spoon.
  4. Drizzle across the cracker/pretzel blanket.
  5. Immediately sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
  6. Allow the mixture to cool, then break into pieces.
  7. Dip the spoon you used to stir the almond bark into the crushed candy canes and allow to sit until the chocolate has hardened. The spoon is great to include in a gift basket with some hot chocolate mix or coffee and a nice mug. I think it would be REALLY cool to do this with some funky antique real spoons.

White Chocolate Peppermint Spoon

This recipe was shared on Favorite Holiday RecipesTotally Tasty Tuesdays, Wonka WednesdaysHoliday Treats Week, Katherine Martinelli’s Mint Blog Hop and EveryDay Mom’s Meals.


Cookie Bloghop: Chocolate Graham Toffee Crunch

Chocolate Graham Toffee Crunch

I’m making food gifts for the holidays. This one isn’t healthy but it tastes really really really good. Like addictively, dangerously good.

If you make this, this is what I recommend: take a test piece or two or three, then put it in an airtight tin right away as soon as it’s done. Hide it away to keep yourself and your family members from eating it all. Give only small bits to people for gifts. Not too much … you wouldn’t want to be held responsible for any crazy candy-binges. By all means, do NOT tell them where you found the recipe, or how easy it was to make.

Oh please don’t make this if you or your intended recipient is trying to lose weight or has diabetes or a heart condition. We should all indulge occasionally, but you may have a hard time controlling yourself around this toffee. It is SO good. It doesn’t help that I’m a toffee fanatic and we always have toffee at Christmastime.

There. You have been warned.

Chocolate Graham Toffee Crunch

Chocolate Graham Toffee Crunch

Recipe from Hot Pink Apron who adapted it from David Lebowitz.com and Smitten Kitchen.com

  • About 20 chocolate graham crackers
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
  • big pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
  • Chopped almonds and/or pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper. (I had trouble with the paper sticking to the toffee. I would recommend foregoing the paper and foil altogether and just generously spraying or buttering the baking sheet. If you have a silicone baking mat, use that instead. In fact, I’m thinking about getting myself one just for making this!)
  2. Line the bottom of the sheet with your graham crackers, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.  Do your best to create a solid blanket of crackers across the baking sheet.
  3. In a large (3-4 quart) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over graham crackers evenly, spreading with a heatproof spatula if needed.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
  5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.  At this point, you can add any toppings you so desire.
  6. Let cool completely, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.

Chocolate Graham Toffee Crunch

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysMidnight Maniac Meatless Mondays,  Frugal Days, Sustainable WaysGooseberry Patch Baking up Memories!Wonka Wednesdays, the Newlyweds Recipe Linky and the #Cookielove Bloghop.

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Melted Witches for Halloween

Halloween Treats: Melted Witches

When I found these adorable Melted Witches in my quest for spooky foods for my Halloween Collection post, my daughter was really taken with these and DETERMINED to make them for the upcoming Halloween parties we are helping with. So we went out and bought Oreos, Laffy Taffy, pretzel sticks, Hershey’s Kisses, almond bark, and food coloring.  And last Sunday we sat down to make these.

First we had to clear off our table and our island in the kitchen so we would have plenty of space for our project. That is a major task in itself in our messy house!

Melted Witches

Making the Hats

The hats are simply half an oreo with a chocolate kiss stuck on top. My girl sat down and made the hats herself, using the sticky stuff from the oreos to stick the kisses on the “hats”. It was a great idea, but I really recommend using something stickier, like some melted almond bark or a bit of melted chocolate. The oreo filling just isn’t quite sticky enough to hold the hats together.

Next, make the Broomsticks

The broomsticks are made from pretzel sticks and Laffy Taffy. You have to flatten the taffy with your fingers, then cut it in half. “Fringe” the bottom half with a scissors, then wrap around the pretzel to make the broom. The taffy is very sticky, by the way, so you need to set them far enough apart so they don’t stick to each other.

Melted Witches Halloween Treats

Now, time to Melt the Witches

Melt your green candy melts or almond bark, then tint it with green food coloring in the microwave. Also melt a small amount of chocolate–you don’t need much chocolate. We used semi-sweet chocolate chips and they worked fine I think.

With the back of your spoon, make a circular shape with the green candy melt, then add a drop of chocolate and swirl it around in the green with a toothpick. Before the melted candy cools, stick on the broomsticks and hats. I recommend putting the sticky taffy end of the broomstick on top of the melt to keep the witches from sticking to the serving tray.

Halloween Goodies ... Melted Witches!

After making these, I have to say I have a completely new level of respect for Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. Not only is she incredibly entertaining in all of her posts, she has a level of patience and dedication that clearly surpasses mine. Both my daughter and I were exhausted after this project! I felt a little melted myself.

I think I’ll be a witch for Halloween.

This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.


Candied Ginger

Candied Ginger

I don’t know why exactly, but the other day I was suddenly struck with this incredibly insistent urge to make candied ginger. I immediately googled it and found a recipe and was pleased to see that she said it was EASY! Yes! Awesome!

A day or two later I made it to the store to purchase some ginger root. The knobby roots sat on the island in my kitchen staring at me … waiting for me to have time to turn them into chewy sweet hot candy. They were calling to me. I could barely stand it!

Ginger is one of those amazingly versatile seasonings. We generally put it in sweets like cookies and cakes and pies, but also in soups and curries and tea and all sorts of other savory dishes as well as sweet! I especially love how a bit of fresh ginger root can add a good spicy KICK to your food.

Not only is it tasty, ginger is also good for your health. It has a lot of strong antioxidants that can help in healing our bodies and maintaining health. It is good for soothing vomiting, nausea, chest congestion, headaches, and can even help as a anti inflammatory for people with arthritis, motion sickness, migraines and diarrhea. So how about that? This is a candy that is actually GOOD for you.

I have long loved ginger. I don’t know why I never thought to prepare it this way. Until now.

Finally, yesterday the time came to cook up my precious ginger.

Candied Ginger

This candied ginger is chewy and sweet with a bit of a kick! I think it would make a great holiday gift, especially for someone with health issues. I am not sure exactly why I suddenly HAD to make candied ginger, but when I have these strong feelings telling me to go DO something, I just do it. I will discover later the connection that pulled me to do this.

Candied Ginger

from Chrysanthemum by Bonibella who got it from Alton Brown

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound fresh ginger root
  • 5 cups water
  • Approximately 1 pound (2 cups) granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it over a pan for catching the stray sugar that falls from the ginger.
  2. Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices. I tried to use my slicer, but found this went easier with a good knife and a cutting board. Place the ginger into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.
  3. Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Save that precious ginger juice!
  4. Return the ginger and 1/4 cup cooking water to the pan and add the sugar. They say to weigh the ginger and add an equal amount of sugar, but not having a scale, I just used 2 cups of sugar.
  5. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize. This takes about 20 minutes. I was kind of watching the clock at this point, and not really believing that this would happen because it still looked liquified to me at 20 minutes but then suddenly a minute or two later: poof! it was done. Just as she said. It went from liquid to solid so suddenly that if I hadn’t been paying attention, it would have burned!
  7. Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and using a spoon or tongs, spread it out on the rack to separate the VERY HOT ginger slices. Once the ginger is completely cool, transfer it to an airtight container. She says it will store for up to 2 weeks.
  8. Save the sugar that drops beneath the cooling rack and use to top ginger snaps, sprinkled over ice cream or to sweeten coffee or tea. The spicy gingery juice (that reserved cooking liquid!) is great for use in tea or soups.
Candied Ginger Root
This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.

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