Valentine’s Day Snack: Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

Well, life is back to normal I guess. We’re all done being television stars around here. My seven-year-old is so over it. She watched the video in the previous post at school yesterday and hasn’t asked to see it again. I watched the show a couple times yesterday. I’m at the point where I’m starting to notice everything I did wrong and am obsessing about what I should have said and done to plug the blog more. But hopefully I’ll get over myself very soon. Considering it was my first time on camera, I’m just glad I wasn’t a total train wreck.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I’ve got time to squeeze in one more snack. Normally, I try to stay away from smoothie recipes simply because I love the impromptu act of throwing a smoothie together based on whatever you happen to have on hand. But I’m making an exception for this one because it’s so easy and perfect for the holiday.

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

1/2 cup silken tofu or plain yogurt
8-10 frozen strawberries, preferably organic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small to medium-sized banana
1/4 cup orange juice
Chocolate syrup, for garnish

Place the tofu, strawberries, vanilla, banana, and orange juice in a blender. Process until smooth. Pour into cups and garnish with a swirl of chocolate syrup. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Valentine’s Day Snack: Raspberry Cream on Heart-shaped Toast

I kind of hate Valentine’s Day. From my perspective as a mother, it’s a holiday that sneaks up on me out of nowhere just when I feel like I’ve restored some balance in our diets after the holidays. And my husband and I aren’t really into it. If the holiday was more along the lines of Mommy and Daddy get to take off for a week and hang out on a beach in the Caribbean, now that is something we’d be happy to celebrate. But an expensive night out at a crowded restaurant or a wilted bouquet of flowers is something we’ve decided to skip entirely.

However, always wanting to be a proper and loving mother, I feel compelled to acknowledge the holiday. And even I will admit that it is nice to have a reason to celebrate in the middle of The Darkest and Coldest Month.

Also, please note that my 4-year-old decided she needed to take photos of her snack today before she ate it. This isn’t the first time she’s mimicked my insanity. I guess she’ll have her own blog up and running by the end of the year.

Raspberry Cream on Heart-shaped Toast Recipe

Any frozen or fresh berry blend can be used in place of the raspberries in this recipe. Blackberries, I’m sure, would be especially nice. I experimented with different sized hearts cut out of toast and the bigger (around 4 or 5 inches) hearts worked better. The raspberry spread is a little on the thick side and didn’t do well when I tried to squeeze it onto a tiny piece of toast.

1/4 cup frozen raspberries, slightly thawed
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sugar
2 slices of toast, cut into hearts using a cookie cutter or free form

Vigorously mix together the raspberries, cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar in a small bowl. Spread onto prepared heart-shaped toasts and serve immediately.

Yield: 2
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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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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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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Chewy Granola Bars

[donotprint]This recipe is as close as I can come to homemade chewy granola bar perfection. It’s the result of lots of testing and tweaking of every decent looking recipe I could find. Because I have a huge soft spot for Quaker Oats S’more Chewy Granola Bars, I tried a variation that included mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. But sadly, they melted. I also played a lot with the ratios of sugar and fat and this recipe it is as low as I’m willing to go with both. Anything less pretty much leaves you with a crunchy granola bar.

We’ve been doing a fair amount of hiking (i.e. strolling in the woods while potential buyers poke around our house) lately. These granola bars have served us well on the trail. They are also free of nuts or nut-products so they are legal in my kids’ lunch boxes and snack bags. So, at the moment, they seem like one of the greatest snacks of all time.

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Chewy Granola Bar Recipe

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup brown rice syrup or Lyle’s golden syrup or corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup quick rolled oats
3/4 cup brown crispy rice cereal
2 tablespoons roasted sunflower kernels
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. The paper should come out and over the top edges of the pan thereby creating handles for easily lifting the granola out after it has been baked. Lightly grease the paper with butter or spray oil. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat along with the brown sugar, syrup, and salt. Bring mixture to a low bubble and stir for a minute to be sure that all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, cereal, sunflower kernels, and raisins. Pour the butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir well with a rubber spatula. Transfer the mixture to the prepared 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Press the mixture down into the pan firmly with the rubber spatula. Otherwise, the granola bars may be too crumbly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. For best results, I wait to cut the bars until the pan is moderately warm or even getting close to cool. After a few minutes out of the oven, you can speed up the cooling process by carefully lifting the granola out of the pan with the parchment paper and placing it on a cooling rack.

Cut and serve or store for up to a few days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They freeze well too. Best served at room temperature. Try to avoid serving them cold as they are a lot less chewy and sweet.

Yield: 12 bars
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Bake-time: 20 minutes

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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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