Peanut Butter Balls

I have to be honest and tell you that really the only reason this blog is still up and running is because I refer to it rather often. If Fix Me A Snack disappeared I’d be pretty pissed over all the recipes I’d lose. If I was smart, I’d print some of the important ones out. But I haven’t gotten around to it.

After doing this for more than a few years, it’s pretty clear that I’m not going to be the next Food Network Star. I’m proficent in the kitchen, but there’s nothing terribly ground-breaking going on here. So why do I blog? The only reason I can see is that it makes me a better cook. It keeps me wondering about healthy snacks and healthy food in general for my family. Other than that I don’t get much out of it. I’m kind of down on social media these days. I have no blogging friends. Comments on my posts are minimal (wah). I don’t make any money and don’t have the will to improve my SEO or the compulsion to share intimate details of my life along with millions of photos.

But it’s a recipe like this that will keep the blog alive. I will be referring to this one for years to come just like I did with its predecessor, Almond Butter Balls. My kids love it. The inspiration for the recipe comes, in part, from Food Doodles’ No Bake Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies. It’s kind of like the two recipes were combined.

Peanut Butter Balls Recipe

1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup crispy rice cereal

Place the dates and peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for about 60 seconds. Add the honey, vanilla, peanut butter, and salt. Pulse for another 20-30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the cereal and mix well. Take about one tablespoon of the mixture at a time and roll it into a ball. Serve or store in the freezer in an airtight container.

Yield: 22 balls
Prep-time: 15 minutes

Apple Date Muffins

The ground cloves in this recipe, albeit a tiny amount, set these tender muffins apart.

Apple Date Muffins Recipe

1 1/2 cup white whole wheat or all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (half stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped dates
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until well combined and smooth. Add the egg and milk and stir well. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture along with the dates and apple. Stir until just combined.

Fill each cup of a greased mini muffin pan with batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a cooling rack. Serve warm. Once the muffins are cooled completely, they can be stored in an airtight container or frozen.

Yield: 24 mini muffins
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Bake-time: 15 minutes

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Date Butter

Date butter is not something a lot of folks have probably made before. Turns out that it is super easy and has a surprisingly pleasant taste. It’s plenty sweet, but much more mellow than white sugar because there’s still so much of the date left in there. I assume that means a lot of the dates’ nutritional goodness has stuck around as well, which is a bonus.

You will need:

6 ounces pitted dried dates (about 15-16 medium dates)
2/3 cup boiling water

Place the dates in a small saucepan. Pour boiling water over them, cover, and allow to sit for one hour.

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After an hour, they look about the same. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for 5 – 7 minutes or until it starts to turn to mush.

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Remove from heat and allow to cool. Put mixture through a strainer placed over a bowl using the back of a spoon or rubber spatula to push it through.

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Discard the dry bits that will not pass through the strainer. Store the date butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I think this date butter would work wonderfully in place of the apple butter in my granola bars. I’ve also enjoyed some Almond and Date Butter Sandwiches as of late.

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Yield: 3/4 cup
Active prep-time: 10 minutes
Inactive prep-time: 1 hour

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Nutty Apricot Turnovers

[donotprint]A year ago I would have dismissed you completely if you told me I’d be making pastry dough from scratch and turning it into little turnovers full of dried fruit and nutty goodness. My mission is to make quick and easy snacks that are healthy too. But alas, it’s time to fess up to the fact that I’ve been playing around with pastry dough lately. I’ve been keeping it off the blog. I’ve been leading a double life.

These turnovers are made with a pastry dough that I’ve modified to include yogurt and white whole wheat flour. The innards include walnuts, pecans, dried fruits, and ground flaxseed. I had a lot of fun making them…and even more fun eating them.

I used to be really frightened by the thought of working with pastry dough. And I still sort of am. But I’m starting to think we should all make pie. I took a pastry class a while ago and it really helped to see a professional whip out a pie shell and see the consistency of the dough, etc. I’ve still got a lot to learn. Thank goodness I’ll need to practice practice practice.[/donotprint]

The recipe for the filling is flexible. Don’t have ground flaxseed handy? Try replacing it with some wheat germ. Don’t have pecans? Just replace them with walnuts. Don’t have dried dates? Try replacing them with more dried apricots and raisins. Other than that, I’d try to stick to the recipe.

Turnover dough:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup plain Greek style yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together a few times. Evenly distribute the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse 5 or 10 times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with the occasional pea-sized chunk. Add the yogurt and vanilla and pulse until mixture starts to form into a ball.

Remove dough from processor. Form into a disk as best as you are able. Knead it a few times if necessary. The dough will be wetter and stickier than most pastry dough. Wrap the disk tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Filling:

Make sure the walnuts and the pecans are minimally altered. They should not be salted or flavored – just nuts.

2 dried dates, pitted (preferably Medjool)
2 unsulfered dried apricots
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup walnut pieces
6 pecans
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons apricot preserves

On a cutting board, finely chop the dates, apricots, raisins, walnuts, and pecans together. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the flaxseed and salt. Stir to distribute. Add the agave nectar and preserves and stir to coat.

To Assemble:

1 egg
1 teaspoon milk
All-purpose flour

In a small bowl make an egg wash. Beat the egg and milk together. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare a work surface by dusting it with flour. Get out your rolling pin and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. The dough gets unfriendly once it warms up, have everything ready to go and work as quickly as you can. Don’t make this on the hottest day of the summer.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Place on floured work surface and dust the top of the dough with additional flour. Beat on the dough with the rolling pin a few times in order to make it malleable while still cold. Roll it out to 1/4″ thickness, turning it occasionally (a quarter or half turn) and dusting with additional flour when it starts to stick.

Cut dough into four squares. Gently pick up with your hands or by resting it over the rolling pin. Dust off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Place 2-3 tablespoons of the dried fruit mixture on each square. Wet the edges of the squares with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Fold each square over into a rectangle or triangle. Gently press edges together with the tines of a fork. Cut a small hole in the top of each turnover to allow any steam to escape. Brush the tops with more egg wash.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack with a large spatula. Allow to cool 5 – 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 turnovers (I cut them in half to serve to the kids)
Prep-time: 30 minutes (not counting the time the dough rests in the refrigerator)
Bake-time: 13 minutes

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Stuffed Dates

The super sweetness of dates demands a counter-balance of, you guessed it, FAT. Cheesy, nutty sweetness, here I come. Seriously, take it easy with these. I read somewhere once that a dried date has more fiber than a prune.

If you’d like to learn more about dates, click on over to my Dried Dates page. (Yes, I have a page devoted to dates. Stop teasing.)

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1 tablespoon cream cheese
1 teaspoon almond butter
1/4 teaspoon orange juice
Pinch salt, if the almond butter is unsalted
3 large or 4 medium dried organic dates, pitted

In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, almond butter, cinnamon, and salt (if required) until smooth and uniform in color. Divide the cream cheese mixture between the dates. Serve.

Yield: 3-4 dates
Prep time: 5 minutes

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