Valentine’s Day Snack: Mini Double Chocolate Zucchini Cakes

[donotprint]Lately I’ve been thinking it would be handy to have some sort of super spy tool that would allow me to see into the pantry of my average reader. Am I all alone on the white whole wheat flour band wagon? Is Greek yogurt something you need to make a special trip to the grocery store for? In the end, I’m pulling from whatever I happen to have on hand to make something resembling a healthy snack. But it would still be cool to know.

I’m starting to think about Valentine’s Day which these cakes would be perfect for. But honestly, I found this recipe  and had a half of a leftover zucchini in the fridge…and there you go. Along with using up the zucchini, I got to dispense with this bar of super dark chocolate which had been hanging out at the bottom of my chocolate basket for a while.

Not until after I’d put the cakes in the oven and I took a photo did I notice that this particular bar of chocolate was well past its expiration date. If you don’t hear from me for a while, you know what happened.

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Mini Double Chocolate Zucchini Cakes Recipe

These decadent and satisfying little cakes are inspired by a recipe for Chocolate-Zucchini Cakes with Walnuts from marthastewart.com. If you don’t have white whole wheat flour, replace it with all purpose flour. If you don’t have Greek yogurt, replace it with sour cream.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
Scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons plain Greek-style yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate, chopped fine
1 cup finely grated zucchini, loosely packed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease one mini muffin pan or line it with paper baking cups and set aside.

2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the butter, egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir a few times. Add the chocolate and zucchini and stir until combined.

4. Place heaping tablespoons of batter into each of the mini muffin wells. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the pan. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm or cool. Store remaining cakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Yield: 24 mini cakes
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Baking-time: 15 minutes

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Curry Dip

Meet my new favorite healthy and tasty snack: Curry Dip with veggies.

I love this dip because it’s different from our usual ranch dip, it’s healthy, and it has a bit of kick. The kids tolerate it. In fact, my eldest actually enjoys it. And I get to pretend I’m actually eating something spicy- with my kids!! It’s a miracle.

Curry Dip Recipe

Inspired by Easy Peasy Curry Dip from La Fuji Mama. She uses Penzey’s Sweet Curry powder. If you happen to have some, bump up the curry powder to 2 teaspoons and enjoy! If you’re using hot curry powder start with 1 teaspoon and gradually add more to taste. The turmeric is added solely for color. But, definitely include it if you have it on hand. The resulting color is lovely.

1/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix the mayonnaise, yogurt, curry, lemon juice, and salt together in a small bowl until well combined. Serve or, better yet, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to develop.

Yield: 1 cup
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Smashed Avocado on Toast

[donotprint]My New Year’s resolution is to prepare devestatingly simple healthy snacks whenever possible.

Seriously, snacks featuring toast as a base are relatively unexplored territory for me. And I love it because it has that breakfasty connotation. And we all love breakfast anytime of day. It has been scientifically proven.

My kids wouldn’t eat this. Would yours? I used to feed them avocado often when they were small. But these days I get to keep it all for myself which is nice because I’m attempting the vegan before 6 thing a la Mark Bittman. I’ve surrounded myself with fresh fruit and bags of frozen leafy greens. We’ll see what happens.

Also, I need to mention my new favorite beverage: Lemon Honey Tea. Does everyone else in the world already know about this? You heat up some water and add a dollop of honey and a squeeze of lemon. I feel like maybe I’ve seen my friend Debbie drink hot water with lemon. Regardless, it goes a long way toward curing my family’s winter-time wheezing. I just love it. My kids really enjoy it with apple cider vinegar instead of the lemon.

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Smashed Avocado on Toast Recipe

1/2 of a ripe Haas avocado
1 teaspoon lime OR lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch salt

Remove the pit from the avocado and scoop the pulp out into a small bowl. Add the lime juice, cumin, and salt and smash it all together with a fork. Spread on toast. Serve immediately.

Yield: about 1/3 cup of smashed avocado, enough for one or two pieces of toast
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Little House Molasses Snow Candy

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The other day, we finally made Molasses-On-Snow Candy from The Little House Cookbook. And let me tell ya that nothing enlivens a snowy New England day like playing with molten sugar! 

Last winter, books from the Little House series dominated our bedtime reading. I don’t recall reading them as a child so I was enjoying them as much as the kids were. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s retelling of her childhood transported us back in time. 

After we read the Christmas chapter of Little House on the Prairie my eldest said to me, “Gee Mom, I hope our Christmas is as good as Laura and Mary’s!!” I think Laura and Mary got a candy cane, a cake, and maybe a pair of mittens in their stockings…and that’s it. They marveled at a heart-shaped cake they found in their stockings and squealed with delight because it was dusted with white sugar! While I enjoy the comforts of modern living, I certainly relate to my child’s desire to be fully enraptured by the magic of Christmas-time.

Given our heartfelt connection to the Ingalls family, it’s unclear who likes the whole idea of making foods out of the Little House Cookbook more, me or the girls. Either way, they did a spectacular job making molasses candy. Nobody had to go to the hospital with third degree burns. Another successful day of parenting! Mostly we made blobs. The fun little shapes depicted in the Christmas in the Big Woods picture book were a little out of my kids’ reach. However, it did get much easier to control the pour out of the pitcher after the molasses had cooled for a few minutes.

These candies are quite tasty. The brown sugar takes the bitter edge off of the molasses perfectly.[/donotprint]

Molasses Snow Candy Recipe

This recipe requires a small ceramic pitcher (A creamer works well), a candy thermometer, and fresh snow. The pitcher’s spout helps control the flow of the molasses. The handle on the pitcher allows the kids to pour the molasses without touching a hot cup directly.

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

Prepare 3 or 4 pans of snow using 9-inch pie plates, cake pans, iron skillets and the like. Gather fresh clean snow into the pans and leave them outside in the cold.

In a small saucepan, stir the molasses and sugar together over medium heat with a rubber spatula. Heat the mixture to 245 degrees Fahrenheit (firm ball stage), stirring frequently. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. When the molasses mixture has reached 245 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the molasses mixture into a small ceramic pitcher. Place the pitcher on a plate in your work area.

Bring the pans full of snow into the work area and allow the kids to pour the molasses mixture onto the snow. Read them the riot act about how hot and dangerous the molasses is and supervise them closely. You have about 10 or 15 minutes until the molasses starts getting difficult to pour.

About 5 minutes after the molasses has come into contact with the snow, test to see if has solidified. If it feels cool and hard, it’s ready to go. Let the kids eat some. Stick any leftovers in the freezer (or outside) still on the snow. If you store it without the snow, it will turn into goo.

[Update Feb 8, 2010: See my daughter and I make it on TV! http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/ct_style/in_the_kitchen/molasses-snow-candy]

Yield: 3/4 pound
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Kid activity time: 15 minutes

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Best Snacks of 2010

I can’t even believe I’m writing this post! 2010 is nearly over??! Wha?

Well, it certainly has been a fabulous year. I feel like I’ve grown leaps and bounds as a cook, eater, and blogger. I’ve grown much more comfortable in all of these roles, but of course, the possibilities for more snacking adventures still seem endless.

Readership has grown a lot this year, which means a ton to me. While I am still small potatoes in the blogosphere, I’m getting actual feedback from actual people near and far. It’s great to know that other people are asking the same sort of questions I am and are craving some quailty snacks.

In my humble opinion, these are the greatest hits of 2010:

Almond Butter Balls
Honey Roasted Pecans
Carrot Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling
Beet Chips
Homemade Cheese Crackers
Homemade Polka Dot Fruit Roll Ups
Apple Chips
Yogurt with Rhubarb Compote and Fresh Strawberries

One of the best things about this list is the way it compares to my best of 2009 list which was, frankly, high in sugar – namely chocolate. Chocolate is still a close friend of mine, of course. But it’s good to see I’ve been branching out.

On a more important note, thanks for visiting and I wish you all health, happiness and many tasty snacks in 2011!!!

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Banana Milk

In case you hadn’t noticed already, I’m a great lover of snack recipes that allow me to quickly use up over ripe bananas. These recipes started with one in Feeding the Whole Family.

My husband says Banana Milk tastes like a thin milkshake without the ice creamy goodness. (He’s a master of the backhanded compliment, but I still love him.) The kids’ favorite was the Egg Noggy Banana Milk version (see the last recipe below).

1. Honey Banana Milk Recipe

1 1/2 cups milk
1 ripe or over ripe banana, peeled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon honey

Pour the milk into a blender along with the banana, vanilla, and honey. Blend until smooth. Serve.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

2. Malted Banana Milk Recipe

1 ripe or over ripe banana
1 1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons malted milk powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process the banana, milk, malted milk powder, and vanilla in a blender until smooth. Serve.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

3. Egg Noggy Banana Milk Recipe

1 ripe or over ripe banana, peeled
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Process the banana, milk, vanilla, and nutmeg in a blender until smooth. Serve.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

Homemade Bagel Chips

When I’m dead and gone I think I’ll have cumulatively spent about 3 weeks of my life wiping up the seeds and junk that fall off of my husband’s favorite breakfast – an everything bagel, toasted, with cream cheese, chopped red onion and capers. How he came up with this I have no idea. Fortunately, my hatred for the everything bagel may ebb now that I’ve found a quick and easy way to turn them into a snack that my kids enjoy.

Bagel Chips Recipe

2 Everything bagels
Canola  (or other neutral) oil spray
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the bagel in half from the top down, not from the side as one usually does for toasting and serving. Slice each bagel half into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick rounds. Lay the rounds on two baking sheets in a single layer. Spray lightly with canola oil. Sprinkle the garlic powder over the rounds.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Allow to cool on the baking sheet before serving. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 3 cups chips
Prep-time: 5 minutes
Bake-time: 8 minutes

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