No Bake Trail Mix Bites

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I saw this recipe in the May 2015 Rachael Ray Magazine. I immediately knew this would be something my daughter would love doing with me and I had almost everything I needed to make them. Who doesn’t love a healthy no bake treat!

The original recipe called for peanuts, but I didn’t have them, so I subbed almonds instead. You could also sub a different nut butter or a different dried fruit.

Ruby and her friend had fun helping dump the ingredients into the food processor and rolling them in the coconut. They wouldn’t even look up for a picture!

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You’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 toasted wheat germ (usually found with the cereal at the store)
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined.

Pour into a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips and cranberries.

Roll into balls and then roll the balls in the shredded coconut. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Buon appetito!




Bake-Dried Apples

I went to a local grocery store a few days ago for lunch – they have a really good sushi bar! – and saw a bag of bake dried apples made by Bare Fruit in the checkout line. I was even more impressed when I picked up the bag and looked at the ingredients – Apples. Yes, that was the one – and only – ingredient. They suckered me in and I bought a bag, along with my Spicy Tuna and Spicy Salmon rolls – yum! I figured since apples were the only ingredient, that I could duplicate them at home. After some research, I combined a few techniques to come up with this recipe.

This post will also show you how to make a simple syrup. It’s pretty simple…ha! Get it? Ok, so simple syrups can be used to soak cakes, sweeten tea, and flavor cocktails among other things. You can also flavor it with anything! Spices, herbs, fresh ginger, etc. The simple syrup steps are completely optional for this recipe, however, I think it adds a nice touch of spice and sweetness. Once made, you can store your simple syrup in a bottle or other airtight container, and it will last for months.

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Our Best Bites’ Quick & Easy Black Beans

Let me just start by saying that I am huge fans of Our Best Bites! Sara and Kate are two moms who love to cook. Their recipes are a good mix of quick and easy, healthy, and fun to make. I’ve been following them for about a year and have loved every recipe of theirs I’ve tried.

Alright, now on to the food! I love black beans and I happened to be looking for a good go-to recipe based on canned beans that I could incorporate into my taco night menu. My brother is a vegetarian, so veggie tacos were something that I’d been wanting to make for a family dinner (hint – next and last of this Mexican series of posts!). I happened to be looking at Sara and Kate’s site and found this recipe. I modified it a bit to my liking and we make these at least once a month at our house. I use two big cans of beans and we eat off that batch all week in nachos, tacos, and quesadillas. These are even great served as a dip with chips.

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Mexican Corn Salsa

The next few posts will all be Mexican food related! Being in Texas, Mexican is probably our favorite cuisine, second only to Italian – because you can’t beat fresh pasta and it’s in my blood! Once you’re armed with a few simple recipes, you can make anything from quesadillas, tacos, nachos….the list goes on and on.

I’ve been working on this recipe for about 2 years. I began the journey after going to Tin Star Taco Bar. They make excellent tacos and they have a corn salsa, similar to this one, that my husband loves. We could go there and if this is all he had to eat, he’d be perfectly fine.

So every time we plan a mexican menu, I try to get a little bit closer to perfection. This is as close as I’ve been able to get, and I think it’s pretty good. You can use it to top tacos, add it inside quesadillas, or grab some chips and dig in. This is best made the day before you serve to let all the flavors meld.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

As fall approaches, I start to crave one thing – pumpkin! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin lattes…well, you get the picture. Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors. I found this recipe last year on Our Best Bites and there are a lot of similar versions all over the internet. Normally, I’m all for completely homemade stuff, but you can’t beat the ease of these and everyone loves them! I often need something quick and inexpensive to bring to work and these muffins definitely fit the bill.

The recipe also has just three ingredients – yes, that’s right – three! – and it makes about 3 dozen muffins. Or 2 and a half regular sized muffins and 12 mini muffins as I did below. Also, I’d like to point that these are 1 Weight Watchers point a piece (well, before the chocolate chips). A great snack to have around. You can even freeze them and then grab one on the go for breakfast or pack them into lunches.

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Nana’s Breaded Chicken

I’ve mentioned it before, but my Grandmother (Nana) is awesome. She has no written recipes and remembers most of them. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything she cooked that didn’t taste good. She emigrated from Sicily, Italy when she was a teenager. Sicily is actually the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s known for citrus, olives, olive oil, grapes, and wine.

She and my Grandfather (Poppy) were the ones who first peaked my interest in cooking. I’d help them make fresh pasta, ravioli, and cheesecakes in their garage and make $20 – which when you’re 10, is a lot of money! They sold them to local restaurants. During my teenage years, I started writing their recipes down so that I could pass them down to my children (and so I could remember them myself!).

This recipe is based on Nana’s breaded chicken and is one of my mom’s favorite dishes. She actually requested Nana make for her past birthday dinner and it made me remember how much I enjoy it as well.

It also adds a simple technique to help keep your chicken moist and juicy – brining.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus is something that I was always scared of as a kid. I think that’s because I didn’t really know what was in it. I’ve tasted it a few times that I can remember, but never really liked it. Though, I’ve always heard that it’s a really good and healthy snack. A few weekends ago, we went to a Mediterranean restaurant with a couple friends and they ordered the hummus. It was AMAZING. I think my tastebuds have changed – and so, I decided to make my own.

After researching online, I found a recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Hummus at Cooks Illustrated. I am a huge fan of Cooks Illustrated, as you’ll come to find out, because they test recipes hundreds of times if needed to get it right. This one appealed to me because I LOVE roasted bell peppers. I’ll have to do a post about how to make your own soon.

I also decided that using store bought tahini wasn’t good enough for me, I had to make my own (I couldn’t find any after two stores and gave up, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?). Tahini is a sesame seed paste, so I hoped it wouldn’t be hard to make. After researching online with The Google (as my husband calls it), turns out it’s pretty simple.  (more…)