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Posts tagged “Vanilla

Whipped Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Cream Cheese

Whipped Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Cream Cheese ~ click for the recipe on my NEW site!

I have blogged this delicious spread before, but I have decided it deserves its own post. After all, I’ve made it three times now, and everyone that has tasted it has raved about it … and I keep missing it when it’s gone and having to make more.

Whipped Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Cream Cheese ~ click for the recipe on my NEW site!

I hope you will zip over to my new site for the recipe … and while you are there, make sure to enter your email address in the right sidebar and click the “Get Recipes by Email” button. Eventually I won’t be posting over here anymore and I would really really hate to lose you …

Whipped Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Cream Cheese ~ click for the recipe on my NEW site!


Strawberry Banana Kiwi Smoothie

Kiwi Strawberry Banana Smoothie

The other day I could feel my body needed something packed full of good nutrients and protein … I didn’t have much time to cook, so I quickly whipped up this delicious smoothie. I like how the kiwi adds a little “zing” to the taste, along with being a nutrient powerhouse. According to a study at Rutgers University, the kiwi is the most nutrient dense fruit, ounce for ounce. It’s high in vitamin C and one study showed that eating 2-3 kiwi fruits a day can reduce the potential for blood clots and decrease triglycerides. Yet another study cited the kiwi’s ability to protect and repair the body from DNA damage, which could protect against cancer. (Source: Super Kids Nutrition)

All of that, plus it makes a really yummy smoothie.

Kiwi Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Kiwi Smoothie

  • 2 small kiwi fruit
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • A few fresh mint leaves

Cut the kiwi in half and scoop out the fruit from the fuzzy skin. Put the flesh of the kiwi along with the rest of the ingredients in your blender and blend everything till smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck and Scrumptious Sunday.


Dad’s Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Dad's Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Whoever coined the term “plain vanilla” really just didn’t know what they were talking about. As The Pastry Chef Online said when we were having our ‘V is for Vanilla’ day, “Vanilla is complex and sophisticated and wonderful.” It is! Vanilla is one of those subtle but wonderful flavors that just enhances everything it touches.

When we were up at my mom and dad’s for the 50th wedding anniversary party, everyone was asking for ice cream. My dad got out his ice cream maker (he has one of those Cuisinart ice cream makers, but he bought TWO of the freezer inserts) and he made this vanilla ice cream and people were coming back for seconds and thirds.  He didn’t give me his precise recipe and he didn’t write it down … I had to guess at it a little, but I think this is pretty close. It’s a simple formula with just a few ingredients, but it tastes so fresh and wonderful. Dad has a way of making the simplest things taste marvelous.

At my house, vanilla is a celebrated ingredient. We use it so much that we buy Mexican vanilla extract by the quart. And vanilla ice cream is just one of those essential things you simply MUST have in your freezer. I have  been struggling to come up with a really good homemade vanilla ice cream recipe and I think it’s because I was very reluctant to allow any fat into my ice cream. But for a good creamy vanilla … one that doesn’t go all rock hard and crystallize on you when you put it in the freezer, I think you really need a little milkfat. This is still much lower in fat than most ice creams you’ll find at the store, and it tastes so much fresher. Not to mention it’s SO simple! No cooking, no waiting … just blend together the ingredients and pop them in your ice cream maker.

Dad's Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Dad’s Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

You will want to eat this lovely ice cream all by itself, with no toppings, no cake, no drizzles. Don’t get me wrong … I’m sure it would be fine with those things as well and I do intend to try all of that, but first let’s stop and savor the complex, sophisticated and fresh wonderful taste of real vanilla ice cream.

  • 2 cups fat free half & half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt (optional)

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or whisk them together in a bowl, making sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Enjoy immediately or stick it in the freezer for a couple hours if you want a firmer ice cream.

Dad's Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

This recipe was shared at Share it Saturday.


Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

My dad loves cantaloupe. He loves it so much that one time he even built a “cantaloupe accelerator” so that his cantaloupe plants would start producing fruit earlier in the season. He doesn’t do the “accelerator” anymore, but he still grows cantaloupe every year, and he has perfected the art of growing them to the point where eating cantaloupe from dad’s garden is almost a spiritual experience. It is the sweetest, most flavorful cantaloupe you have ever tasted …

So we went to visit my parents the other weekend and his cantaloupe are ripe (but he’s having trouble with the gophers eating them … can you blame them for wanting a bite?) He mentioned to me that he and mom have been blending up the cantaloupe with some yogurt and drinking it just like that. I said to him “you mean like a lassi?” … well, he didn’t know it was called a lassi; he just knew he liked blending his cantaloupe with yogurt.

For those of you who don’t know, a Lassi is a drink made with yogurt. It is common in India and Pakastan. I was most familiar with the Mango Lassi which is a blended mango drink with yogurt, but I did a little research and discovered there are many ways to make a lassi: some are spiced and savory, some are fruity and sweet, but all of them are made with yogurt.

Anyway, my dad gave me some cantaloupe to bring home, so I had to try making his Cantaloupe Lassi. I added vanilla because I just love vanilla so much. I also froze some of the cantaloupe chunks to make it extra cold and smooth, almost like a milkshake. My dad is right (as usual!) … a Cantaloupe Lassi is truly a wonderful thing. It’s healthy, it’s cold, it’s quick, it’s easy, but most importantly: it’s delicious!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt … I have tried both plain (with no sweetener) and vanilla yogurt … I think I like the vanilla better, but they were both really good!
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Here’s another delicious variation …

Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Several fresh mint leaves

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

This recipe was shared at Manic Monday, Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, 1 Month of Fun and Cast Party Wednesday.


Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Do you want to hear the story of the refrigerator and the caramel rolls, how I gained a great appreciation for towels, teflon tape and good neighbors …  and how this bread pudding came to be?

It all started when my sister and her husband came to visit. The ice machine in my refrigerator has been broken for some time. We’ve been making do with ice cube trays, which was a little frustrating at times because we’d be spilling water on the floor and sometimes it was kinda hard to get the ice cubes out of the tray, but it wasn’t a terribly big deal to us. However, ice is important to my sister. She mentioned to her husband that perhaps he ought to fix the ice maker in my refrigerator. So he set out to do that. We pulled the refrigerator out of his spot, he started cleaning and investigating and finding all sorts of strange things in the grate and around the back of the fridge, some from the previous owner of the house even. He figured out what was wrong, but then he needed a part to fix it. He started calling all the local repair shops and nobody had the right part.

So we ordered the part online, he put the fridge back together and we pushed it back into place. No big deal, right? Except now the water dispenser in the door (which didn’t work before he started) was leaking. We put a cup under it and went about our business. A few days later after my sis and her husband were gone,  it started leaking faster. Like the cup would be full in an hour! You can’t really fit a bucket under there, and the part wasn’t here yet, so my kids and I rigged up a system with a piece of an old hose, some duck tape and a bucket. Then you could actually go to sleep at night and let the thing drip. It was ugly and awkward, but it worked. Then the part finally arrived, but it was days before I could get to fixing it.

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Now, I’m not a fix-it kind of person. Anytime I have to do a fix-it project I get terribly nervous, but I got my son to help me move the fridge, we shut the water off, and we set to work to put this new part in. It was going pretty good, I got the part in, tightened it up, but left the fridge out so I could observe it for a while after we turned the water on. It was dripping. Oh dear. I tried tightening it. It dripped faster. I got more towels and turned the water off. My son tried tightening it. No luck. He went downstairs all frustrated and I sat down and cried. Then I started looking for the phone number for the plumber. But then it dawned on me that my neighbor might be able to help. He was outside working on his van when I ventured over there … sure, he would look at it. He told his son to grab the teflon tape and the two of them came over to look at my fridge. It wasn’t even 15  minutes before they’d fixed it. No leak! YAY! And the ice maker works! No water will come out of the dispenser that was leaking like crazy before, but I’m okay with that.

I felt a moment of great gratitude for good neighbors, towels, and teflon tape.

The next morning I woke up determined to do something nice for my neighbor. I set about making some freshly baked peach caramel rolls, sure that that would be the perfect treat for him and his family on a Sunday morning. But when I finished the rolls, my neighbors were nowhere to be found. They weren’t around all day, in fact, and by the next morning, the peach caramel rolls that had looked so delicious the day before didn’t look so appetizing. They still tasted good if you warmed them up first, but they weren’t very pretty and I was NOT going to give my neighbor an ugly treat.

So I made the caramel rolls into bread pudding. I dare say, this bread pudding was even better than the rolls and it made for lovely breakfasts for me for several days … and even served as breakfast over the weekend at my parents’ place. This is the view from the dock at my parents’ place …

Gratitude

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Maybe you don’t have a big plate of caramel rolls sitting around, so I’ll give you two variations of the recipe here: one made with old caramel rolls, and another similar bread pudding made with bread and peaches.

  • 6 cups of old caramel rolls, cut into 1-inch chunks (it’s ok if they are a little stale or dry)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped (if you’re using my peach caramel rolls, cut the amount of added fruit to 2 1/2 cups)
  • Sliced almonds & raw sugar, for the top

Directions:

  1. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the chopped caramel rolls in the casserole dish. Pour the milk over the rolls and let the cubes bask in their milk bath for about 15 minutes, tossing gently every once in a while to give all the rolls a chance to soak.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs till they are a little fluffy, then add the vanilla, nutmeg and salt and whisk till everything is well blended. Mix the peaches into the egg mixture.
  3. Fold the fruit into the soaked caramel rolls. Top with almonds and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of raw (turbinado) sugar.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour or until the pudding is set.

Variation using bread: Substitute 6 cups of bread cubes for the caramel rolls. You can use any kind of bread … I think whole wheat adds a nice texture. Add 1 cup of brown sugar + 2 Tablespoons melted butter to the egg mixture.

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

This recipe was shared at Foodie Friends Friday, Scrumptious Sunday and Weekend Potluck.


Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Last week my aunt from Florida came to visit. I don’t know how many stops she had planned on her trip, but one of them was to visit my parents … I suspected she would go see mom, but I didn’t really know until it was my turn to see my aunt.

My daughter and I drove down to meet my aunt and her artist friend for dinner. It was then that my aunt told us she had been to my parents’ place and my dad had made this green tomato cake for dessert … what?!? … my dad made a green tomato cake?! What the … ?

I thought it sounded really odd, and then when we went to see my parents this weekend, dad mentioned his green tomato cake. Mom said that it was more like a bar than a cake and Dad said the recipe he used just had too much green tomato in it. I could see the wheels turning in his head … I asked him to tell me about this green tomato cake … and he had already figured out how to make it better. I looked him in the eye and said “let’s make a cake!” … and so my dad and I set to work making a green tomato cake.

We started with our favorite carrot cake recipe, which is from The Jack Daniel’s Cookbook, but by the time we finished, I don’t think you’d even recognize the original recipe. Nonetheless, my dad was totally right (he usually is) … the cake turned out absolutely amazing. Both dad and I had two pieces of it for dessert after brunch (I NEVER have two pieces of cake …) and then later, on my way home, I brought some to my friend and had another piece of cake with her. Three pieces of cake in one day. This is totally a record for me. I’m not a cake person (unless it’s like some kind of of amazing decadent chocolate cake), and this cake isn’t even chocolate! … but it is SO worth it. The tart green tomatoes taste so much better than carrots in this (kinda pretty awesomely healthy) moist and flavorful cake.

The green tomatoes came from mom and dad’s garden. They fell off the vines while Mom was trimming the tomato plants. There was a whole bucket full of them. Their tomato plants are just thick with fruit … there will be LOADS of tomatoes this year. Only a few are ripe yet; the rest are yet to come.

Green Tomatoes for the Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

My very favorite part of the day? I got to cook with my dad. The big bonus was that it turned out to be something totally jaw-dropping awesome.

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Highly Adapted from The Jack Daniels Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook

  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups chopped green tomatoes (about 2 large green tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts

Heavenly Frosting:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whiskey

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the raisins in a cup with the 1/4 cup of whiskey to plump them up.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then make a well in the center and add in the wet ingredients. Whisk up the eggs and  other wet ingredients together, then stir to incorporate them into the batter. Add the raisins & whiskey, green tomatoes and walnuts and stir just until everything is mixed up well.
  3. Pour the cake batter into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by mixing the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and whiskey until smooth. Let the cake cool, then frost it with the Heavenly Frosting.

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

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This recipe was also shared at Scrumptious SundaysMade it by MondayThursday’s Treasures, Katherine Martinelli’s Tomato Bloghop and Foodie Friends Friday.


Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

Since my first baked oatmeal turned out so good, I wanted to try another version. I meant to make this one banana pecan, but once I got into the kitchen, well, I couldn’t help but add chocolate. In the end, I’m glad I did … this oatmeal is SO deep dark chocolate decadent. I almost want to try making it again without the banana … or maybe use berries instead? Yeah, it’ll happen.

This could be breakfast or dessert. Mid-afternoon snack. After dinner treat. Whenever you eat it, it’s delightful.

Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup (100g) old fashioned oats (not instant oats)
  • 1/3 cup (30g) pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened quality dark cocoa powder (such as Ghirardelli)
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chocolate Chia Pudding or 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Frangelico (optional)
For the top:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons pecans
  • 1/2 Tablespoon or so of raw (Turbinado) sugar
  • A few chocolate chips
  • A few banana slices

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Spray a small casserole dish or 8×8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray and make a layer of banana slices on the bottom.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the oats, chopped pecans, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Sprinkle half the oat mixture over the bananas, then add another layer of bananas and cover with the remaining oats.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, chia pudding (or egg white), vanilla, and Frangelico. Pour this liquid mixture over the oats, trying to coat all the oats with liquid. Sprinkle the top with the toppings, then set in the oven.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the dish has set. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysCast Party Wednesday, Thursday’s TreasuresTastetastic Thursday, My Sweet Party and Fit & Fabulous Friday.


Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Is this baked oatmeal breakfast or dessert? I styled it like a dessert, with a pouf of whipped cream on top because it TASTES like a decadent fruity dessert, a lovely warm fruity crumble with a crunchy topping and a fruity sauce on the bottom. But really (if you skip the whipped cream) it is a quite healthy breakfast full of fruit, fiber, and protein. I love breakfasts like that.

This is something I’ve been meaning to try ever since Ann at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen posted her Strawberries & Cream Baked Oatmeal. When I met mom and dad for lunch last Sunday, they brought me some rhubarb. To me, that seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out this “baked oatmeal thing”. After trying this delicacy, I may never go back to eating regular oatmeal again …

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Adapted from Nutmegs, seven

  • 3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (100g) old fashioned oats (not instant oats)
  • 1/3 cup (30g) almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the top:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons flaked almonds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon or so of raw (Turbinado) sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 cup mulberries (or other berries)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Spray a small casserole dish or 8×8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Scatter the rhubarb over the bottom and toss with the sugar and vanilla.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the oats, chopped almonds, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk, egg white and almond extract.
  3. Sprinkle your oat mixture over the rhubarb evenly, then pour the milk mixture over the oats as evenly as you can. Sprinkle with mulberries, raw sugar and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of flaked almonds.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the dish has set and turned a lovely brown and crunchy on top. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

If you want to serve it for dessert, serve in wedges with a little dollop of whipped cream. Or just scoop it out in warm spoonfuls into a bowl for breakfast with your coffee or tea in the morning.

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

This recipe was shared at It’s a Keeper ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayFit & Fabulous Fridays and Weekend Potluck.


Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzer

Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzer

Soooo I found another use for that wonderful Very Berry Syrup from the Very Berry Italian Cream Sodas. Add it to a little white wine with some club soda and it makes a really nice refreshing spritzer. The thing that makes this magic is really the syrup, which has two kinds of berries and a bunch of basil in it, along with a splash of vanilla. It’s delightful.

This is what I was sipping on as I was grilling up the pizzas last night …

Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzer

Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzers

  • White wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • Very berry syrup (recipe here)
  • Club soda
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: basil leaves and/or edible flowers like violets

Fill a wine glass about 1/2 full of wine, add a few ice cubes and a teaspoon or two of the very berry syrup. Taste it to see if it’s to your liking, and add wine or a bit more syrup to adjust to the level of sweetness you want, then add a splash of club soda (for the bubbles!) and garnish with flowers and/or basil leaves.

Very Berry Basil Wine Spritzer

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

So I have these chia seeds that I won from Lauren at Nutri-Savvy and Ruth’s Foods and I’ve heard they make a nice pudding … tapioca-like. Well, of course I had to try a chocolate version. I added a little cinnamon because I love the taste of cinnamon and chocolate together: the taste combination reminds me of Mexican hot chocolate.

The chia pudding does have a tapioca-like texture, except there is a slight crunch from the seeds. And it’s much easier to make than tapioca. I think I still prefer the texture of tapioca, but this is a nice, simple, and very healthy pudding. I thought it was really interesting how the little chia seeds seemed to absorb most of the chocolate. It’s so healthy you could eat it for breakfast and even pat yourself on the back for taking good care of your health. The chia seeds give it fiber, protein, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids (which are very good for your heart).

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

Adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup fat free half & half + 3/4 cup milk (or use 1 1/4 cups milk of your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed (optional, but hey if you have a ripe banana sitting there that needs to be used, toss it in. I always seem to have some over-ripe bananas about that need to be used up)

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until the clumps are gone. Place in fridge for 1-2 hours (or overnight), until it’s thick. Add milk if you want the pudding a little thinner, or more chia seeds if you want it thicker (then chill again for a while …).

Serve it cold or heat it up in the microwave for a warm pudding.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious Sundays and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


No-cook Strawberry Chia Jam {a Berrylicious Post}

No-Cook Strawberry Chia Jam

I found this recipe on the blog Eating Bird Food and I was so intrigued by it. Could you really make jam without cooking, with no pectin and no sugar? Yes, you can! The chia seeds work so well as a thickener and they don’t need to be cooked at all; they just start thickening as soon as you add the liquid. And if you’re intimidated by making jam or canning it, you can skip all of that with this super simple jam!

If you’re not familiar with chia seeds, here’s a little background I found on Eating Bird Food:

“Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. You may have seen chia sprouts growing on the novelty planters called Chia Pets, but historically, the seeds have been the most important part of the plant. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. I’ve read that one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.” - Quoted from Dr.Weil

Chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acid (the good kind of fat), protein, antioxidants, fiber, potassium and magnesium. 1 Tablespoon of dry seeds have about 60 calories, 5 g of Fat, 6 g of Carbohydrate, 6 g of Fiber, and 3 g of Protein. They do add a little crunch to the things you put them in, but with strawberry jam, you normally expect a little crunch from the berry seeds, so the crunch from the chia seeds isn’t even noticeable. (Not that it’s a bad thing anyway, I really love the tiny crunch of chia seeds in everything I’ve tried them in so far!)

No cooking, no canning Strawberry Chia Jam

No-cook Strawberry Chia Jam

  • 1 cup strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Honey, to taste (or other sweetener, like stevia … I used 3 teaspoons honey)

Directions:

  1. If you are using frozen strawberries, let them thaw. Mash the strawberries with a fork or blend them. If you are using fresh berries like I did, unless they’ve gotten very ripe and mushy, you will probably have to blend them because they don’t mash very well.
  2. Mix in the chia seeds, vanilla, water and honey (or other sweetener). Use the honey or sweetener to suit your own taste. I found just 3 teaspoons of honey gave it just a light sweetness and it let the fresh strawberry taste shine through, but it definitely isn’t as sweet as your typical jam.
  3. Cover the jam and put it in the fridge for at least 30-60 minutes to thicken.

That’s it! Your jam is ready to use once it has thickened up. Keep it in the fridge in a covered container and use it just like you would any other jam.

I created this post for Berrylicious. Look at these other lovely berrylicious posts!

Berrylicious Recipes

  1. Joan, Chocolate Chocolate and More – Lemon Blueberry Pound cake
  2. Charity, Foodlets – Strawberry – Banana Popsicles
  3. Jamie, Green Beans & Grapefruit – Mixed Berry & Cookie Butter Clafouti
  4. Hani, Haniela’s – Red Currant Meringue Cake
  5. Katrina, In Katrina’s Kitchen – Frozen Blueberry Basil Lemonade Pies
  6. Sue, Munchkin Munchies – English Matrimonials
  7. Bia, Rich and Sweet – Blueberry Blackberry Orange Streusel Scones
  8. Sam, Sams Kitchen – Eton Mess Mini Cheesecakes
  9. Sherron, Simply Gourmet Photography – Mulberry Syrup
  10. Ann, Sumptuous Spoonfuls -  Strawberry Chia Jam
  11. Karen, Trilogy Edibles – Meringue Nest with a Bumbleberry Compote

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


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.


Baked Strawberry Walnut Quinoa Bites

Baked Strawberry Quinoa Walnut Bites

I’ve been intrigued with the idea of baking with quinoa for a while now, so when I stumbled across this pretty muffin recipe from Poor Girl Eats Well, I really wanted to try it. They turned out a little differently what I expected, though, which is why I’m not calling them muffins. When I think of muffins, I think of something light, moist and cakey. These are not light and cakey. They are more dense, with a little crunch from the walnuts. I had my friend try them and she said they tasted like those fruit bars that you buy.

Anyway, they do have a lovely sweet vanilla taste, with juicy berries … and the quinoa adds a lot of fiber and protein, so that makes these little bites a really good breakfast … or a great snack to keep you going … especially before or after a workout.

Baked Strawberry Quinoa Walnut Bites

Baked Strawberry Walnut Quinoa Bites

Recipe from Poor Girl Eats Well. I made 6 larger “muffins” and about 20 mini-muffin-sized bites.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour (or quinoa flour, if you can find it)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (I actually used part strawberries, part blueberries)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, loosely chopped
  • several strawberries, thinly sliced (for the top)

Directions
1.  Preheat the oven to 375°.  Spray a muffin or mini-muffin tin with cooking spray or use muffin liners.  In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, eggs, bananas & vanilla.  Mix in the dry ingredients, stirring together until everything is well blended.

2.  Add the quinoa and mix well.  Fold the chopped strawberries (and/or blueberries) into the batter.  Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.  Place one strawberry slice on top of each lil bite, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

3.  Remove from oven and cool for a couple of minutes.  Remove the bites from the pan and cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Baked Strawberry Quinoa Walnut Bites

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s Meals and Trick or Treat Tuesdays.


Almond Berry Granola

Almond Berry Granola

I don’t know what it is with me and breakfasts lately … all my posts seem to be about breakfast. Oh well, breakfast is important. What you eat in the morning sets the tone for your day, so you should make it good.

Granola is the perfect breakfast on mornings when you’re in a rush. Have it with fresh berries and milk, or sprinkle some on your yogurt or ice cream. Or just munch on it for a snack throughout the day. Besides, oats are especially good breakfast food. I was just reading about that yesterday.

If you’ve never made your own granola, just trust me that it’s SO worth it. The house smells heavenly while it’s baking and the result is truly fantastic. Oh so much better than the store-bought stuff. I’m really excited for the mulberries to come in because I think they would be just wonderful with this granola. I see the little baby berries starting on my beloved mulberry tree and I’m almost shivering with excitement. It’s the little things in life …

Almond Berry Granola

Almond Berry Granola

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds (or other nuts … I was thinking perhaps 1 cup almonds, 1/2 cup pecans might work even better)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/8 cup basil strawberry sauce (recipe below) or strawberry applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 – 4 Tablespoons maple syrup (or berry syrup), depending on how sweet you want your granola
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional … leave out the salt if you are watching your sodium)
  • 6 oz. dried berries (I wanted to use strawberries, but couldn’t find any dried strawberries at the store. I dried a few strawberries myself, but it wasn’t enough fruit for my granola, so I added dried blueberries, cranberries, and cherries.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the oats and nuts. Set aside.
  2. In a separate small bowl, mix the strawberry sauce, honey, syrup and spices. Microwave on high for a minute, stir, and then microwave 30 seconds more until the mixture is good and hot. (Or heat the mixture in a saucepan. Either way will work.)
  3. Pour the hot sweet sticky mixture over the nutty oat mixture in the bowl. Stir it all up until it’s well mixed.
  4. Spread all this wonderful stuff out into a thin layer on a large jellyroll pan (or other big flat baking pan with an edge to it). Set it in the oven and bake for about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. It should be browned to a lovely brown color and smelling fantastic. You can taste a little sample to see if it’s crunchy enough. If it’s not, bake it a little longer.
  5. Let the granola cool for a bit before stirring in the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container. It will keep for about a month or so. There’s NO way mine is going to last that long …

Basil Strawberry Sauce

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lb strawberries

In a saucepan, mix the sugar and water and heat to boiling. Add the basil leaves and cook about 5 minutes. Strain out the basil (or remove with a slotted spoon). Add the strawberries with the simple syrup in the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the strawberries are soft. Remove all the strawberry chunks and put it in a blender or food processor, add some of the syrup and puree to make an applesauce-consistency of strawberry sauce. Reserve the rest of the pretty red syrup for using in mojitos or over pancakes.

Almond Berry Granola

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic Thursdays and Weekend Potluck.


Baked Strawberry Rhubarb French Toast for Mom

Strawberry Rhubarb Baked French Toast with Mascarpone Cheese

My mom loves strawberries. I know this because I remember, as a child, she always wanted one of her kids to go to Dairy Queen with her on Mother’s Day to get her free sundae. And she ALWAYS got a strawberry sundae. So I always ALWAYS think of strawberries on Mother’s Day.

My mom doesn’t live anywhere near a DQ anymore. And my dad happened to mention to me last week that they really needed to stay home and plant the garden this weekend. So my daughter and I decided that we should go surprise them with a visit. After dance rehearsal on Saturday, we hopped in the car and drove up there. We arrived a little after 5:00, walked in the house, and it was empty. Heeeeeellloooo? Mom? Dad? Anybody home? No response …but their dog was there … and the front door was open … so I knew they couldn’t be toooo far!

Mom was down on the dock, checking the fishing lines. That’s my mom, always fishing. Or reading. Or gardening. And dad? He had gone off mushroom hunting. Mom tried to call his phone, but she was having trouble. So I called him.

He made it really easy for me NOT to tell him we were there at his house. He mentioned right away he was on his way home and told me about his mushroom hunt and how I would have to call mom on her phone … he asked what I was doing. “Oh, not much,”  I said. We talked for a while … and I managed not to say anything about us visiting … So he was a little surprised when he drove in … hee hee.

Anyway, I made them some thai curry for dinner last night … and then I made this for mom for breakfast today. Because she loves strawberries …  I think Mom really enjoyed it … And then we planted the garden together. It’s been a long time since I have helped with the planting of the garden.

I love you so much, Mom. There isn’t anything I can give you, let alone anything I can do for you to thank you for all that you’ve done for me. I feel like this is such a feeble attempt at saying thank you … but I just felt like the best thing I could do as a daughter on Mother’s Day was to just BE with you. That’s the best Mother’s Day gift I could think of. I can’t take you to Dairy Queen for your strawberry sundae anymore. But I CAN make you something wonderful with strawberries …

We ate breakfast on the patio in the sunshine, overlooking the lake. I think it was much better than Dairy Queen. I hope my Mom agrees …

Strawberry Rhubarb Baked French Toast with Almonds & Mascarpone Cheese

Baked Strawberry Rhubarb French Toast

Adapted from “From Valerie’s Kitchen

  • About 4 1/2 cups of bread, cubed (I used my dad’s whole wheat yogurt bread)
  • 4 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup of chopped strawberries
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • Sliced fresh strawberries

Directions:

  1. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass or ceramic (non-metal) pan with cooking spray. (The acid in the rhubarb will react with metal, so I like to use glass pans when I’m baking with rhubarb.) Make a layer of bread cubes in the bottom of the pan. Top with the rhubarb and the chopped strawberries, and add dabs of the Mascarpone cheese. Add the rest of the bread cubes.
  2. Mix up the “goop” … in a bowl, whisk the eggs, then add milk, vanilla, almond extract, 3 tablespoons sugar and spices. Whisk till smooth. Pour over the bread cubes in the pan, then gently stir to make sure all the cubes get moist. At this point, you can cover the pan and refrigerate for an hour or several or even overnight. I just let it sit for about 15 minutes, and gently stirred around the cubes again to make sure all the bread cubes got a good soaking. It made a little bit of a mess with the mascarpone, but now we’re going to add the topping so that will make it all pretty again.
  3. About an hour before you’re ready to eat, make the topping by melting the butter. Then in a small bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and almonds. Sprinkle this all over your french toast bake, then add fresh sliced strawberries to your heart’s content.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 40 – 45 minutes or until the eggs are set. Let the dish set for about 5 minutes after you remove it from the oven, then serve.
Mom got the first piece.

Strawberry Rhubarb Baked French Toast with Mascarpone and Cinnamon Toasted Almonds for my Mom

This recipe was shared at Mom’s Everyday MealsMealtime Monday,  Trick or Treat TuesdaysTotally Tasty TuesdaysDelicious Dish TuesdayCast Party Wednesdays and This Week’s Cravings: Eggs.


Lisa’s Chocolate Mud Cake

Lisa's Chocolate Mud Cake

Last week, my foodie friend Lisa from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish found this recipe for “Mud Cake” in her recipe box, so she made it and blogged about it.  It looked so good and moist and chocolatey … and easy. I needed a little chocolate in my life yesterday, so I decided to make Lisa’s cake. I mentioned “chocolate cake” to my friend as we were talking, and a short while later, there he was, pulling into my driveway … LOL. I didn’t have time to frost it because I had to run off to yoga, but both of the guys who tasted it agreed it was delicious without frosting. My son was a little angry with me for making it on the day he was leaving to stay with his dad … sorry buddy! I’m saving the recipe for you, though. We’ll make it again.

Lisa’s Chocolate Mud Cake

Recipe from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients till smooth. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan and bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Head on over to Lisa’s to get the recipe for the frosting! It looks super yummy …

Lisa's Chocolate Mud Cake

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s Treasures.


4-layer Vanilla Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache

4-Layer Vanilla Birthday Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache

I am not a cake artist. My cakes rarely turn out that beautiful. I’m much better at styling a salad or baking up a pretty loaf of bread … but this year my girl and I were bound and determined to make a fantastic vanilla cake for her birthday party.

When South your Mouth posted a “Suck it Betty Crocker” Vanilla Cake, we both knew THIS was the right recipe. And it was! The cake was moist, tender, wonderful … I did it in 4 layers instead of three … the bottom two layers were thicker and I didn’t quite cook them enough. But nobody minded. Everyone said the cake was great. (Because it was.) I usually make an attempt at “healthifying” my recipes, but this one I left alone. It’s a BIRTHDAY cake after all. Once a year, I think my girl deserves a good un-healthy cake.

My daughter wanted chocolate frosting with her vanilla cake so I thought I would attempt a chocolate ganache. We are both choco-holics and it didn’t seem like a buttercream was going to give enough chocolate flavor for us. When I went to make the frosting, though, I had a bit of a dilemma. First, I had 5 egg whites that my girl thought I should use in the frosting. And secondly: without thinking, I had made all the half and half into vanilla ice cream mix. Ooops. So there I was, wondering just how to go about making the frosting.

Sooo I used the vanilla ice cream mix in the ganache, then whipped up some of the egg whites and folded them in. After a little time in the fridge, it turned into a luscious wonderful whipped chocolate ganache. I’m not normally a frosting person, but I could eat this stuff by the spoonful it was so good.

4-Layer Vanilla Birthday Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache

You see? My cakes always look a little messy … oh well! It tasted really good.

‘Suck It, Betty Crocker’ Vanilla Cake

Recipe from South Your Mouth

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup butter flavored shortening
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup additional liquid*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pans. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  2.  In a small pitcher or glass, mix together milk, additional liquid and vanilla.  Set aside.
  3.  Using a mixer, cream shortening on medium speed until fluffy – about 1 minute.  Add sugar and continue to cream for 5 minutes.  Add eggs yolks one at a time, then honey. Beat well after each addition.
  4.  Add flour mixture and milk mixture to creamed mixture (alternating each, beginning and ending with flour mixture).
  5.  Pour batter into prepared pan(s)* and bake per the following or until the cake no longer jiggles in the pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. DO NOT OVER-BAKE.

8-9” Round: Fills three pans, or 4 thin layers.  Do not try to fit all of the batter into two.  Use about 1 3/4 cups batter per round. Bake 20-25 minutes. See South Your Mouth for other pan baking times and a beautiful vanilla frosting recipe that uses all the egg whites.

*Use any sweetened clear liquid such as cream soda (my favorite), white wine, light-colored fruit juice, coconut milk, lemon-lime soda or even sweat tea.

Lowfat Basic Vanilla Ice Cream Mix

This makes too much ice cream mix to fit in my ice cream maker, so I usually make half this much. It’s nice to have extra on hand. You can add all kinds of flavorings to this basic mix to make just about any flavor ice cream you crave. You’ll need some of this for the ganache frosting … although you may be able to get away with just using half & half instead.

  • 4 cups fat free half and half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix half & half & sugar. Heat, stirring frequently, until small bubbles form at the edge of the pan.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a whisk or mixer until frothy.
  3. Slowly drizzle a stream of the hot cream mixture (about 1 cup of it) into the egg, whisking or beating constantly.
  4. Gradually add the egg mixture back into the remaining hot cream mixture in the saucepan, whisking as you go.
  5. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon–roughly 5 minutes. Add the vanilla.
  6. Put in a jar or covered container in the fridge till it’s cold, then freeze in an ice cream maker.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 12-oz. bag of quality semi-sweet (or dark) chocolate chips (we used Ghirardelli)
  • 1 cup basic vanilla ice cream mix (in liquid form)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup of egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • a pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Put the chocolate chips in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the ice cream mix with the butter till it’s very hot (but not boiling!) and the butter is melted. Pour the ice cream mix over the chocolate chips and stir stir stir until the chips have melted and it forms a nice creamy hot mess.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then add the cream of tartar and beat a little longer so the peaks are REALLY stiff.
  4. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mess until it’s all totally chocolatey and no white stuff remains. Mix in the powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Put the frosting in a covered container in the fridge till it’s cool and thickened up to frosting consistency. I’m not exactly how long this was because I was so busy with the party, but I think it was about 2 hours.
  6. Frost your cake! It makes quite enough to frost a 4-layer cake with a bit to spare.

4-Layer Vanilla Birthday Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck, Everyday Mom’s MealsCrazy Sweet Tuesday and Trick or Treat Tuesdays.


Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

I make this pudding at least one time every spring when the rhubarb comes in.

So it was Easter weekend, we were up at my mom and dad’s place and my mom’s rhubarb was one of the few things that was already growing. It was still small, but I couldn’t resist picking some of it and making my favorite bread pudding. I made it for breakfast and the pudding didn’t last long … both the kids and adults loved it. I think the pretty color of the berries and the rhubarb  lured everyone in. I didn’t have much time or opportunity to photograph it. They didn’t quite seem to get that I need to take pictures of my food (and that’s funny because it’s not like me taking pictures of food is a NEW thing) … but then, I’m not all that used to having a lot of eager eaters around either.

I split it up into two puddings: one with pecans on top, one without (on the off chance that my daughter who doesn’t like nuts would try it … and she did!), but you can do this all in one casserole dish.

Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

  • 6 cups of bread cubes
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups fruit (I used 2 cups rhubarb, 2 cups raspberries this time, but I’ve also done this pudding with all rhubarb or all berries)
  • Chopped pecans & raw sugar, for the top

Directions:

  1. Spray your casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the bread in the casserole dish. Pour the milk over the bread and let the bread cubes bask in their milk bath for about 15 minutes, tossing gently every once in a while to give all the bread a chance to soak.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs till they are a little fluffy, then add the vanilla, sugar, nutmeg and salt and whisk till everything is well blended. Mix the rhubarb and berries into the egg mixture.
  3. Fold the fruit into the soaked bread. Top with pecans and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of raw (turbinado) sugar.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour or until the pudding is set.

Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

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This recipe was also shared at Weekend Potluck, Successful Saturdays, and Meatless Mondays.


Elvis’ Favorite Muffins

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, & Banana Muffins … with a Peanut Butter Filling

Elvis' Favorite Muffins (Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Banana with a Peanut Butter filling)

Okay, Elvis never really tried these muffins. But he should have! He would have loved them.

But then again, who wouldn’t love chocolate banana muffins with a peanut butter filling? Maybe my mother. She’s not into chocolate. I will never ever in a million years understand that. (But I still love you, Mom!)

Elvis' Favorite Muffins (Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Banana, with a PB filling)

Elvis’ Favorite Muffins

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, & Banana … with a Peanut Butter Filling

Makes 18 muffins

  • 3 mashed ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup lowfat milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (add more or less, depending on how chocolatey you want your muffins)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Filling:
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the bananas, sugar, yogurt, canola oil, egg and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is thoroughly mixed.
  4. Mix the filling ingredients together. Add a little more PB or sugar according to your taste.
  5. Spray your muffin pans with cooking spray. Spoon a spoonful of batter into the bottom of each muffin pan to cover the bottom of the muffin. Top with a small spoonful (about a teaspoon) of the peanut butter filling, then cover the filling up with another spoonful of the chocolate batter.
  6. Bake at 325° for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched.

Elvis' Favorite Muffins ... Chocolate & Banana Muffins with a Peanut Butter Filling

Now … what should I do with these other three bananas? Hmm …

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdaysFull Plate Thursdays and Weekend Potluck.


Banana Colada Ice Cream with Spiced Fruit Compote

Banana Colada Ice Cream with Honey Spice Fruit Compote

The other day I was cruising around the blogosphere when I saw some coconut ice cream … I’m not much of a fan of that dried shredded coconut, but I love the flavor of coconut … and I thought: wouldn’t coconut ice cream be dreamy? Or better yet, coconut RUM ice cream? Oh and then you could go a step further and make it pina colada ice cream.

I didn’t want all the fat and sugar from the recipe I saw so I made up my own. It’s fruity with that creamy coconut taste and an underlying hint of banana … because frozen bananas have a luscious creaminess to them that no other fruit can quite attain.

And just for good measure (and a little color!) I added some more fruit on top.

Banana Colada Ice Cream with Honey Spice Fruit Compote

Banana Colada Ice Cream

  • 2 cups fat free half and half
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 of a can of light coconut juice
  • 1/4 cup pineapple orange juice concentrate
  • 3 Tablespoons of coconut rum

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix half & half & sugar. Heat, stirring frequently, until small bubbles form at the edge of the pan.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a whisk or mixer until frothy.
  3. Slowly drizzle a stream of the hot cream mixture (about 1 cup of it) into the egg, whisking or beating constantly.
  4. Gradually add the egg mixture back into the remaining hot cream mixture in the saucepan, whisking as you go.
  5. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon–roughly 5 minutes.
  6. Pour the hot mixture into a blender with the vanilla, frozen bananas, pineapple orange juice concentrate and coconut rum. Blend until smooth.
  7. Put the mixture in the fridge until cool. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Serve topped with the honey spiced fruit compote

Honey Spiced Fruit Compote

This makes a small batch of fruit compote, just enough for about 2-3 servings, depending on how much fruit you pile on and how big your servings are. Mix up the fruits if you like — pineapple or mango would be wonderful too.

  • 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and chopped
  • 5 – 7 strawberries, tops removed and chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • A dash of each: nutmeg and ground ginger
  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced

Mix all the ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes or so or until the fruits start juicing a bit. Pour over the frozen ice cream.

Banana Colada Ice Cream with Honey Spiced Fruit Compote

This recipe was shared on Newlyweds Recipe LinkyMelt in your Mouth MondaysFull Plate Thursdays, A Crafty Cook’s April Link Party, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella Mousse

Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella  Mousse

It’s National Chocolate Mousse Day today, so of course I had to make some chocolate mousse!

I lightened it up by using nonfat Greek yogurt and an egg white in place of the heavy cream, but it still tastes deliciously decadent, with deep dark undertones of Kahlua and hazelnut.

Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella  Mousse

Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella Mousse

Makes 2 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons Kahlua
  • 2 teaspoons good quality dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the Kahlua, cocoa powder, Nutella, yogurt and vanilla until it’s smooth.
  2. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg white at medium or high till soft peaks form, then sprinkle the cream of tartar on while still beating until the peaks are firm. Gently fold the beaten egg white into the chocolate mixture.
  3. Cover and place in the fridge for a couple hours until it’s firmed up to the desired consistency.
I garnished it with a little dollop of plain Greek yogurt, a drizzle of chocolate syrup and a hazelnut.

Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella  Mousse

I thought I ought to include the nutrition information … this is from Calorie Count on About.com

Nutrition facts for Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella Mousse

This recipe was shared at Trick or Treat TuesdaysCast Party WednesdaysFull Plate ThursdaysTastetastic Thursdays, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


5-minute Dark Chocolate Red Wine Mug Cake

Post #4 of 5 in my Five Favorite Things for my Five Thousand Foodie Friends series …

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Mug Cake

#1 was salad. #2 was dip. #3 was bread. and #4 is … duh! CHOCOLATE! of course! … and wine … two of my greatest loves. Because red wine and chocolate are always there for you. They will be yours and yours alone … unless you choose to share them.

Whether you want to share this decadent cake is totally up to you … What I love about this cake is this: it has WINE in it! That alone is enough, but then it’s also dark, seductive, decadent and VERY chocolate. And it’s done in just a few minutes.

It goes great with red wine. It’s big enough to share, but small enough so you don’t have a huge chocolate cake hanging around for days, tempting you. … or maybe you want to double the recipe and make one for you, one for your friend? It kinda makes sense because one mug uses about 1/2 an egg, so to make two mugs, you’d just use a whole egg, then you really wouldn’t have to bother with whisking it.

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Mug Cake

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Mug Cake

  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons whisked egg (about half of a large egg)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine (I used Pinot Noir … but I think you could use whatever red wine you love)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 squares (1 oz.) 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons good quality dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  2. Put the butter in a microwaveable mug, break up the chocolate over it, then microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir well. If the chocolate isn’t melted yet, microwave for another 30 seconds.
  3. Add the yogurt, red wine, and vanilla to the mug and stir, then add the egg and stir that in well too.
  4. Add the wet chocolatey mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir till everything is well mixed.
  5. Now pick a good-sized mug to cook this baby in, spray it with cooking spray, and dump the batter in. Top with chocolate chips. Or you could mix the chips into the batter, whatever you prefer. I put mine on top.
  6. Microwave for 3 to 4 minutes on high or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If you’re making two, microwave the first mug, then start the second one. The cake will puff up while it’s cooking, then fall when you take it out of the microwave. Don’t worry, that’s normal.

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Mug Cake

It’s amazing just like this, but if you want to make it completely decadent, you could top this cake with berries or nuts or ice cream or whipped cream … with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce? Mmm …

This recipe was shared at Fabulous FridaysSuccessful SaturdayStrut your Stuff Saturdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays,  Midweek Fiesta, and Gooseberry Patch Pies & Cakes.


Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread

Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread

I was having a serious chocolate craving and nothing I had on hand was going to cut it. I was tempted to make something like a chocolate pudding cake until I saw this recipe from Rock Recipes for Chocolate Pecan Banana Bread. I couldn’t help but fiddle with the recipe, though. I reduced the fat, increased the amount of cocoa, reduced the sugar and then added honey and Nutella and substituted hazelnuts for the pecans (to go with the Nutella!).

It was just what I needed to satisfy that intense chocolate craving. Yes this is DARK, decadent chocolate. My favorite. Mmmm.

Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread

Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread

Adapted from Rock Recipes

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons applesauce
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract

Dry ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Extras:

  • 1/2 cup good quality chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Raw sugar, extra chocolate chips, and/or toasted chopped nuts (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mash the bananas with a fork, then add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.
  4. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle with raw sugar, toasted chopped nuts, and chocolate chips, if desired.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckMidnight Maniac Meatless MondaysTuesday Talent Shows, and Katherine Martinelli’s Bread Bloghop.


Heavenly Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Brownies

Heavenly Chocolate Brownies with Pretzels & Caramel

It was Thursday, and every Thursday I have to pick up my daughter from school and take her to dance lessons. She is always STARVING right after school because they feed her lunch very early in the day, so I have to bring her a snack. Usually I try to make it healthy, and yes, I did bring her an apple and some corned venison, but I thought brownies would be a nice treat to top it all off.

There’s more to this story: for Christmas, my kids both got Ghirardelli milk chocolates with caramel filling in their stockings. Now they love milk chocolate – and they love caramel, but for some reason, they are not so fond of the caramel filled chocolates. So my daughter and I came up with this idea to break up the caramel chocolates and put them over brownies with some pretzels. We have been meaning to do this … but didn’t have a recipe for brownies that we liked and haven’t really had time … well, you know how life goes sometimes. You get so busy with things that little projects like this get swept to the wayside.

So I found a recipe for brownies from the Southern Lady Cooks and thought it was time to try out our idea.

Heavenly Chocolate Brownies with Pretzels & Caramel

Heavenly Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Brownies

Adapted from the Southern Lady Cooks.

I added the chocolates before I baked them, then put the pretzels on top, but they completely melted into oblivion. I think the right way to do this is to put the pretzels on before you bake the brownies, then right after you take the brownies out of the oven, sprinkle with chopped caramel-filled chocolates (or caramel bits and chocolate chips) and a bit of sea salt. That’s my plan for next time I make these, anyway.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine or 12 tablespoons, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Broken pretzel bits
  • 5 squares of Ghirardelli caramel-filled milk chocolates, chopped
  • Coarse sea salt

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt. Add the eggs, butter, and vanilla. Mix well with a spoon. Pour into a sprayed 8 x 8 inch baking dish and spread out evenly. Sprinkle pretzel bits over the top. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Right after you take them out of the oven, sprinkle the chopped chocolates over top so that they melt onto the brownies and sprinkle with a bit of coarse sea salt. Let the brownies cool a bit before you try to cut them. Makes 9 to 12 brownies depending on size you cut them.

Part 2: the brownie saga continues …

Of course, after I made the brownies for my daughter, then my SON wanted brownies. But he didn’t want any of that caramel or pretzel stuff on HIS brownies.

So I asked my foodie friends on facebook what their favorite brownie recipe is and wow did I get a great list of brownie recipes! Here’s the list: I made the Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter for him.

Here’s a shot of the boy’s browned butter brownies. Really, I am not sure which recipe I like better … but my daughter and I really really really love the pretzels and caramel chocolates on top. I was worried the pretzels would get soggy, but they don’t! They stay nice and crunchy (for a day or two). The boy can have his plain chocolate brownies. We’ll do the pretzel thing.

Browned Butter Cocoa Brownies

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s Meals and Thursday’s Treasures.


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