Showing posts with label desserts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label desserts. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mango Strawberry SPARKee (icee)

What's the best energy drink of all time? SPARK! I used to be a coffee fiend... and to be fair, I still love coffee and the flavor, but I don't need it to function any more! That said, this girl still loves a good old pumpkin spice latte! MMMM YUM!

Spark is awesome because I don't crash around 3 or 4 in the afternoon and it comes in super awesome flavors. Super awesome... like what? Super awesome like Mango Strawberry and Pink Lemonade. I've used it in smoothies and sprinkled on frozen grapes. YUM. Who would have thought that frozen grapes could be such an amazing treat? Not this girl.

I've been playing around with a variety of drinks, and I've come up with one that's so simple, yet so delicious -- a healthy version of an Icee or Slurpee... a SPARKee! Now all I need is a blender that can actually crush ice. If I put anything with a tougher consistency than a tomato in my blender, it whines and cries and half-heartedly shuffles the ice cubes around. I may go shopping soon!

Mango Strawberry SPARKee!
1 scoop/packet of Mango Strawberry SPARK
4 oz water
1 1/2 cups ice cubes
Optional: 1/2 cup fresh/frozen strawberries.

Whisk together Spark and water until well blended. Add with ice and fruit into blender and process until you achieve the consistency you're looking for.

Pour into glass and slurp away.

Note: I am an independent distributor for AdvoCare, but share this recipe because it's simply supa dupa awesome. This  wasn't intended to be a product review, just a recipe... and it's oh! so good. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Minis

Looking for a great treat for that Halloween party?

I've found the new greatest treat!!!

I have had an amazing sugar pumpkin sitting on my counter until recently... very recently. Isn't it gorgeous?

I've been watching for pumpkin recipes that I want to try and located two... one of which is... you guessed it Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes! The original recipe came from Little Rays of Sunshine, and I thought it sounded simply amazing!

Boy was I right! It made K happy since he has been wanting cheesecake, and it made me happy, because, well, I love anything mini! I think mini things are so cute... and that's why I renamed the recipe from Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups to MINI Pumpkin Cheesecakes!

They're so tasty and they even have a crust! And the only thing I love more than mini things, are all things pumpkin - I even have a pumpkin spice dish soap and counter spray set from Williams Sonoma.

MINI Pumpkin Cheesecakes
modified from Little Rays of Sunshine

2 (two) 8-oz packages of cream cheese (I used fat-free)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used sugar pumpkin, but you can use canned)
24 gingersnap cookies
whipped cream for garnish

 Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Place your foil muffin cups into the muffin tray... aren't these guys I found cute? They're decorative AND foil. I love having the best of both worlds! It's important to use foil on these cups so that they easily pull away from your mini cheesecakes and you get the full-on gorgeous-ness!

Next, pop the gingersnaps in the bottom of the cups... however they fit best. Mine had to go upside down.

Though the original recipe calls for you to cream the first five ingredients, since I use my food processor for almost everything, I just dumped all the ingredients together and processed until smooth. It's always so hard for me to resist eating the batter... even though I know with raw eggs it's not recommended.  And, let me tell you... it's SO good.

Next, drop the batter into the cups until about 2/3 full. I found that using a 1/4 cup measuring cup as a spoon gave me almost exactly the right proportion. Pop these puppies in the oven and bake 10-12 minutes... or until the edges are firm and the center jiggle just a little.

Once cool, remove the foil wrappers and serve. This is what the little guys look like, pre-whipped cream, but what good is pumpkin-flavored anything without whipped cream?


proudly linking to 

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Monday, October 17, 2011

How to Cook Pumpkins and Other Squash

Before last year, I didn't know an acorn squash from a butternut squash from a hubbard squash from a spaghetti squash.

I also had no idea that they were related to pumpkins or that they could often be interchanged with pumpkins.  Nor did I have any idea how to cook them!

Fast forward to Squash-a-palooza 2012.

I'm going to assume that some people are starting where I did, and don't know how to cook a squash. Here is your how to guide... for spaghetti squash, for meatier squashes, and for pumpkins and squash to be made into pies and other sweet treats.

I showed you these photos of my squash bounty from the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago.
From left to right: Sugar Pumpkin, Mini Blue Hubbard, Pink Banana Squash, purple potatoes, Stripetti Squash.
Squash-a-palooza, like it's concert festival forebears, has gone on for more than just one day.

Day 1 featured spaghetti squash and pink banana squash.
Though spaghetti squash can be baked, my favorite way to cook it is by boiling; this makes the "noodles" less crunchy and softer... and therefore is a great way to make the squash serve as a gluten free replacement for traditional pasta.

To boil spaghetti squash, make fork holes in the squash, plop the squash in a large pot of water and boil on high heat for at least an hour. Make sure that your squash rotates in the water, otherwise you'll end up with half soft noodles and half a little crunchier. After allowing to cool, slice in half and scoop out the seeds and fibrous innards (be sure not to take too much out, as the "noodles" will be easily scooped out with the innards). Then drag a fork through the meat to create noodles. Either set aside for dinner, or place in freezer bags and freeze for use later.

Pink Banana Squash - weighing in at 23 pounds!

I know I showed you this banana squash, but it's truly a beast and deserves to see the light again. Twenty-three pounds of squash!!! Though the farmer offered to sell me this baby in chunks, I wanted to buy the whole thing so I could stock up my freezer. K won't let me buy more squash now. :( Understandable, but still makes me sad. I could eat and buy and prep squash for ages!!

This baby got chopped into half, and then half again, and then half yet again! Yes ... eighths. It was that monstrous. How do you cut a giant squash in half? VERY CAREFULLY!

As the chunks of squash became manageable, I then scooped out the goop and seeds from the center. I saved the seeds for roasting, and then forgot about them in the oven. Whoops!

To cook this monster, and most other squash, season the "meat" with salt and pepper, or whatever other seasonings you want, (or you can skip the seasoning step altogether if not sure what you'll be using the squash for), and then place meat-side down in a lightly greased baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until squash meat is very tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.

Pull out and cube, setting aside for your dish of choice, OR place in freezer bags to freeze and then cook later. If freezing, it's worth noting that your squash upon thawing may be best suited for use in soups or purees.

Fast forward a few weeks, when I was ready to tackle squash again. It really did take a while! The 23 pound banana squash and two giant spaghetti squash took a lot out of me! It's now time to bake some sweet treats using the sugar pumpkin.

What's a sugar pumpkin? Honestly? I have no idea. It's a small pumpkin that came to us very green. After several weeks on the counter, it turned a brilliant orange and just screamed to be turned into something delicious. I've been watching Pinterest and Friday Potluck for the best pumpkin sweet treats on the net and opted for Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes from Little Rays of Sunshine and Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from From Apples 2 Zucchini. Watch for my versions of the recipes to come soon.

How to cook a pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin.
Slice the top off and then slice in half. Enjoy the beauty of a gorgeous pumpkin. Scoop out the pulp and seeds. If you wish to save the seeds, you can do so (rinse the seeds and dry with paper towels, then spread out in a single layer of a cookie sheet, seasoning with salt and pepper and put in oven on low heat for a few hours... be sure to check regularly!)

Place the pumpkin halves meat side down on a cookie sheet and cook at 350 degrees for about an hour until the meat is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Scoop the meat from the shells and push through a sieve to reduce the amount of water in the pumpkin. Then place in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside and start cooking!!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles -- Holiday Guests #4

Welcome to my fourth Holiday Guest - Lisa of Sweet as Sugar Cookies. Lisa is a lovely blogger whose recipes are absolutely fantastic and mouthwatering! Lisa started blogging in February 2010 as a way to catalog her recipes and see how they all turned out. She's continued because blogging has given her the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful other bloggers and become friends with them, as well as finding a new talent in photography. Lisa is motivated by good food and the desire to share it with others, as well as by seeing the beautiful and delicious things that other bloggers come up with. Fun fact: Lisa loves Korean dramas. If it's a really good one, she can watch four episodes marathon-style (four hours!!!, as long as she doesn't have anything else to do, that is).With that, check out her Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles! :) I can't wait to try these babies!

 (Betcha can't eat just one)

Christmastime is always a time for delicious goodies, both to have around the house and to give to others.  This Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffle recipe is one you'll definitely want to keep in your recipe box for both purposes.

These little chocolates look good enough to be store-bought and they taste every bit as good.  The peanut butter center is  creamy and the pretzels add a delicious crunch.  Blend that with the sweet chocolate on the outside and you've got the perfect bite.  Just one taste, and I promise you'll receive rave reviews.

Of course, if you're planning to give these away, you might want to double the recipe (you know, just so you can make sure you have a few or twenty of these truffles for yourself).  

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles (adapted from The Pursuit of Happiness)

1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 c. finely crushed pretzels
1 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
powdered sugar

Mix peanut butter and crushed pretzels in a bowl.  Add powdered sugar if desired (I wanted my filling to be a little sweeter and it helped to stiffen the dough a bit more).  Cool in the freezer for about 15 minutes until firm.

Roll the peanut butter mixture into small balls.  Place balls on a cookie sheet covered in wax or parchment paper.  Freeze balls for about 30 minutes or until firm.

Pour chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl with a little vegetable oil (I found that I didn't need the extra oil).  Microwave for about 30 seconds and then stir.  If chips aren't melted enough, microwave again for another 15 seconds.

Roll frozen peanut butter balls in melted chocolate.  Refrigerate truffles until ready to serve.

Makes 28 truffles

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pomegranate Juice

I've seen lots of awesome pomegranate recipes as my favorite fruit appears for the season. I love pomegranates. I don't love destroying my clothes by eating them, but I'm willing to make a few sacrifices.

I've had three pomegranates in the fridge for a few weeks, and had a craving to do something with them.

Similarly, I had a craving to use my new food processor.

If you hadn't already read the title, I'm sure you could probably read where this was going. If not, well, I made some lovely pomegranate juice. No additional anything added.

First, seed the pomegranates.

Want to see them again? They're so lovely. And so tasty.

Toss the seeds (juice pouches) into a food processor.
I love my food processor. It makes my day.
Process until smooth.
Press through a cheesecloth or a strainer.

You get....

About half a glass of juice.

Half a glass!!!?!?!
After all that work?
It was really good juice. But now I have a solid understanding for why pomegranate juice is so spendy.

See how delicious and frothy it is? 
I had to make it last.
So I added Sprite to turn it into two servings.

Enjoy my Pomegranate Juice

I'm linking this up with my Friday Potluck

as well as with 
Inspiration Friday over at Vanessa's place
Foodie Friday @ Designs for Gollum
Vegetarian Foodie Friday @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Pie & Crust (low sodium)

Many of you know that this blog started out as a way to keep track of lots of great healthy and low-sodium recipes. It's transformed into my journey with real food, and cooking with fresh and whole ingredients as opposed to packaged foods. It doesn't always happen that way, but I try my best.

This year, since we brined our turkey, though not much sodium transferred into the turkey (at least I don't think it did), I wanted to make K's favorite -- pumpkin pie -- from scratch, and healthy if possible. 


Imagine my excitement when pouring over Dick Logue's cookbook 500 Low Sodium Recipes: Lose the Salt Not the Flavor in Meals the Whole Family Will Love, I found recipes for both pie crust AND pumpkin pie filing. 
He's got some awesome recipes in here and I urge you to check them out, including recipes for low sodium onion soup mix, chilis, soups and so many (500 to be sure) more!

I learned an important lesson -- wax paper and parchment paper are not the same, nor are they created equal. Be sure to have wax paper on hand for a successful crust! :) With so much going on last Thursday, I completely forgot to take pictures of all of the yummies I was making!

Also, I would like to share that I was able to use my new KitchenAid food processor for the pie filling, along with almost every single one of my Thanksgiving recipes! :)

Dick Logue's Pumpkin Pie and Crust
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp water, cold

Add oil to flour and mix well with fork. Sprinkle water over and mix well. With hands press into ball and flatten. Roll between two pieces of waxed paper. Remove top waxed paper, invert over pan, and remove other paper. Press into place. (If not adding a baked filling, bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned -- 12 to 15 minutes.)

Pumpkin Pie Filling
1-1/4 cups pumpkin, cooked and mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine pumpkin, sugar, spices, and flour in a mixing bowl. Add eggs and mix well. Add milk, water, and vanilla. Mix. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Allow to cool. SERVE!!

I'm linking this post to

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Fudge (BakeFest 2010)

After a very successful first Thanksgiving in our household, we're now faced with massive amounts of leftover turkey. We've got lots of great recipes planned. And, of course, you'll hear all about them.

This post is not about leftovers though. It's about BakeFest 2010

Though there were lots of great and yummy tasty treats made during BakeFest (banana bread and cupcakes, Drick's praline bread and cupcakes, chocolate pistachio fudge, white chocolate coconut pistachio fudge, not even counting the low-sodium pumpkin pies from Thanksgiving!), today, I'm going to tell you about the two fudges.

First of all. YUM! What a great treat.

I saw this on Nigella's new Cooking Channel show. I knew I had to try it.
So I made her chocolate fudge according to the recipe, but added some coconut flakes on top. I also made some white chocolate fudge with the coconut flakes mixed in. You've got to try these babies. :)

The biggest problem I ran into is the actual shelling of the pistachios. I couldn't figure out why my fingers hurt till I went to shell another one. :)

Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

12oz semi-sweet chocolate, either chips or broken up
14oz evaporated milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup crushed pistachios

Melt the chocolate chips in a regular saucepan (No double boiler needed!) and stir in the evaporated milk until smooth.

Fold in the butter.

Stir in the crushed pistachios. Once well mixed, pour into a foil pan. This makes removal easier down the road.

White Chocolate Coconut Pistachio Fudge

12oz white chocolate, either chips or broken up
14oz evaporated milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup crushed pistachios
1 cup shredded coconut
Just like before, melt the chocolate and stir in the evaporated milk and butter.

Add in the pistachios and coconut and stir together well.

As before pour into foil pans and refrigerate for at least an hour to harden.

Cut each pan into 64 one inch squares, and prepare to take to your holiday gathering. Or, place into candy/cookie bags and tie with ribbons. I purchased these from Michaels and think that they're great!

Meanwhile, be sure to save a few samples for yourself and your spouse, especially if your darling has as much of a predilection for chocolate as K does. 


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slow Cooker Applesauce

As we in the US prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I certainly hope that I'm not the only one still thinking -- OOOOOH I could make that too!! This year it's just going to be hubby and I, and it will be my first Thanksgiving to cook my very own dinner — I cannot wait! :)

K & I scored a 15 pound bird for $6. at Safeway earlier this month and have been busy planning how to cook it and all of the sides... 15 pounds of turkey. Yikes! We're planning to take a big giant plate of holiday fixins to the soldiers in K's company who have to work that day... but we're still going to have lots of extras. MMMM leftovers!!!

Before I go into the details of my crock pot apple sauce, I want to remind you to enter my CSN giveaway! Win $35. to spend at CSN Stores!!! :)

But, this post is on a side or a healthier dessert you can easily make. It's easy, and you can let it cook away all day in the crock pot while your oven's tied up! It makes your house smell AAAAAHHHHmazing too.

This recipe, you may or may not remember, was one of my featured posts in Saturday Sevens on October 16. I was impressed with Heather Lynne's Crock-Pot Applesauce and decided that I must try it for myself.

I absolutely adore this recipe... and that I can leave it simmering all day, giving the house a wonderful apple-cinnamon scent. When we walked back into the house, I couldn't believe the fantastic aromas emanating from the slow cooker.

I made one and a half of Heather Lynne's recipe, but otherwise didn't make significant changes to it.

Add caption

I used three apple varieties -- granny smith, red delicious, and a beautiful red/gold apple whose name I cannot remember.

Aren't they pretty?

I do not have an apple peeler or corer, and cored and peeled by hand. If you are like me and are a "traditionalist" either by intent or accident, I implore you to remember that knives go very easily through apples whose skins have been removed. Though no blood was drawn, I certainly felt the sharp point of the knife a few times.

I'm not very good at this whole peeling thing. There were lots of short and stubby peels.

These were my three success stories. Ok, two and a half success stories. But aren't the top two beautiful?

Slow Cooker Applesauce

9 large apples, skinned, cored, and cut into 8 pieces
2 1/2 lemons, juiced
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
4.5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/3 cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a four quart slow cooker. Stir together. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

After you return home your 4-6 hours are up, this is what you'll see. Mash together (should be a cinch) into a lovely red sauce. Add another tablespoon of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon, stir together and cook for another 20 minutes or so.

Serve. I garnished with apple slices... thought it might be over doing it but, it turned out perfectly!!  A definite keeper!

I'm linking this up to my own 

Saturday's Party @ Recipes of a Cheapskate
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Name That Squash!

Hello to my wonderful blogland friends. 

I need your help today!!

We purchased this lovely squash from our Farmer's Market, but never got the name! I'm planning to turn it into pies and then post about it, but I hate to post with "Mystery Squash Pie" as the title. It just doesn't have the right ring to it...

That is where YOU come in.
No lovely prizes for helping me figure out what this squash is, but I AM planning a giveaway next week from CSN! So stay tuned for Monday's post!

Clues from our friendly farmer:
1. This is a New England variety.
2. It has a similar taste to butternut, but is slightly sweeter.
3. It is NOT a pumpkin.
4. It's kind of speckled and a pale orange-y color.

That's all I've got!

Let me know what you think it might be. Also feel free to venture a guess at how many pies this puppy will make.

Having NEVER made pumpkin pie before, I have no clue... nor do I have any idea how this experiment will turn out. 

It's all a mystery (cue spooky music)!

and receive my eternal gratitude :)


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