Wednesday, December 20, 2006

HOLIDAY APPETIZER: Artichoke Spinach Dip

This is a twist on a favorite. I love the spinach artichoke dips you get at restaurants or freezer section, BUT they always seem to be more spinach than artichoke. They also lack some of the taste I this is an adaptation of that recipe to make it to my taste.

Artichoke Spinach Dip

1 Can of Artichoke hearts (NOT MARINATED)
1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 8 oz block of Low Fat Cream Cheese (Neufachatel)
1 cup lite mayonaise
1/2 cup shredded parmasean cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1 clove garlic, finely minced
4 scallions chopped
1 Tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
dash or two of black pepper

Drain and chop artichoke hearts, set aside.

Mix softened cream cheese and mayonaise together until well mixed and creamy. Add garlic, parmasan, scallions (reserve about 1/3 cup of the green tops, chopped for garnish), italian seasoning, salt & pepper. Mix well. Add reserved artichoke hearts and spinach. Mix well.

Pour into a 1 qt baking dish. Sprinkle cheddar cheese and reserved scallions on top. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until edges are just brown and it's all bubbly.

Serve with crustini, crackers, crudite, etc. MMMMMMMMMMMM.....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

HOLIDAY GIFT: Sugar-Free Hot Cocoa Mix

As promised. This is an adaptation of a recipe I found while trolling on line. The original recipe used sugar, I adapted to make a sugar free treat for the diabetics and dieters in my life!

Sugar Free Hot Cocoa Mix

2 Cups non-fat dry milk
1 Cup Splenda Granular
1/2 Cup cocoa powder
1/2 Cup dry non-dairy creamer
dash salt

Mix all ingredients in a 1 qt mason jar. Place lid on tightly and shake firmly until well mixed. Include an instruction card (tie around the lid with a bow) with instructions to dissolve 4 Tbs of mix in 8 cups hot water or coffee.

This can be adjusted and made "gormet" by using flavored powders like French Vanilla or Hazelnut. Use your imagination!


Saturday, December 16, 2006

HOLIDAY GIFT: Sugar-Free Almond Biscotti

In my life, there are many diabetics. My father, my grandmother, my mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, many. My normal Christmas mindset is goodies. Getting goodies. Giving goodies. Eating goodies. It is a wonder I am not diabetic myself. Until this year, I had avoided food gifts with my diabetic friends and family, for fear of putting health in jeopardy. This year, I embarked on a journey to seek to understand how to cook for them. The following recipe is one I came up with in my search. It is from the Splenda website. I have modified and adapted it to suite my tastes and styles. For a sugar-free food, I have to say, it's really good. I did not expect that.

Sugar-Free Almond Biscotti

1/2 Cup almonds, slivered
1/2 Cup canola oil
3/4 Cup Splenda granulated no-calorie sweetener
3 tbs. sugar (*note, necessary for the baking "science" has negligible glycemic impact)
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp anise seed (optional - I did not use)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray cookiesheet with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

IF DESIRED, toast almonds for 7-10 minutes until golden (I did not, I prefer the texture/taste of the raw almond in this recipe).

Mix oil, Splenda and sugar together in a large bowl. Add eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add extract and mix well again.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powser, baking soda, nonfat dry milk (if adding anise, add at this step as well). Pour into the oil/egg mixture and stir until well blendd. Add almonds and mix until just blended.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half unto a log approximate 3 1/2 inches wide by 12 inches long. (Note about dough, much looser than a normal biscotti dough. You may have to scoop and smooth into log shapes "frosting" style. I did not attempt to kneed and shape into rolls - but you could with well greased hands)

Bake 20-30 minutes (until lightly browned and springs back to touch) be cautious not to cook TOO much at this step, if it is too dry to cut, it will be difficult for the next step, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. With a sharp, serrated knife, slice each loaf on the bais into 1/2" cookies. Return, cutside down, to baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove, flip over, bake another 8 minutes.

Remove from oven, and pan and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Serve dipped in tea, coffee or Sugar Free Hot Cocoa (mmmmm....another recipe to be posted tomorrow!).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kid Recipes

Okay, so these are not to eat! BUT, for those of you with kids, these recipes may become invaluable.

THANK YOU Mrs. HPK from Family Life Forums for posting these today.

Finger Paint
1/4 c cornstarch
2 c cold water
Food coloring

Mix. Boil until mixture thickens. Cool. Divide into containers. Add food coloring.

Salt Dough

1 c salt
4 c flour
1 1/2 c water
4 T oil

Mix salt and flour. Add water and oil. After making objects or shapes, bake 45 min at 350 degrees. Paint. Varnish.

Silly Putty

1 c white glue
1 1/2 c liquid starch

Mix ingredients. Cover. Let stand a few hours. Pour off any excess liquid.

Play Clay

2 c baking soda
1 c cornstarch
1 1/4 c coldwater
Food coloring(opt)

Mix soda and cornstarch together. Add cold water. Mix until mixture is smooth. Boil 1 min, stirring constantly,until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add food coloring if desired. Pour onto plate. Cover w/ damp cloth. Let cool. Knead 7-10 min.

For ornaments or shapes...After kneading, roll out onto waxed paper. Cut out designs or shapes. Let dry until hard-approx 1-2 days. Paint w/ tempra or water color paints. Dry well. Coat w/ clear shellac. Hangars may be mounted on back w/ glue or pressed into dough while still wet.

Monday, December 11, 2006

French Onion Soup

I have been having a massive craving for French Onion Soup (no, not pregnant, to my knowledge!). Well, on Friday, I finally sat down and searched a bunch of recipes. There were none that fit exactly what I wanted and what I had on hand, so I had to adapt a little bit. But this is what I came up with, and it turned out quite yummy!!!

French Onion Soup

4 large onions sliced VERY thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tbs butter
1/2 cup red wine (choose a dry over a sweet, like a Shiraz or a Cabernet, Sherry would work well too)
2 14.5 oz cans Beef Broth
French Baguette
Olive Oil
Provalone Cheese, sliced (you can use swiss, mozz or gruyere if you prefer).
Salt & Pepper

In a large soup pot, melt butter. Add onions and cook over medium heat. When onions are very soft, add garlic and continue to cook. These will cook a long time, until LIGHT brown and carmelized. (I kept my soup pot covered to avoid losing the moisture and allowing htem to really cook down. You also have to stir often). Once onions are carmelized, add wine and cook until the "wine" smell is gone (took about 5 to 10 minutes). Add beef broth. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Add salt & pepper (be careful with salt b/c we're using a can broth). Continue to simmer at a very low heat for about 20 to 30 mins.

While soup is cooking in the last 20-30 minutes. Slice baguette into 1/2" slices on the bias. Lay on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Bake until very crisp.

Ladle soup into oven safe bowls. Place bowls on a baking sheet. Place a piece of baguette in the bowl and cover with slice of cheese. Bake in 450-500 degree oven until cheese is bubbly and just starting to brown on top. Watch VERY will go fast.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

HOLIDAY GIFT: Kensington's Hot Chocolate Mix

Family Life Forums proving to be a breeding ground for Holiday Gift Ideas this year! Here's another. I had to post! :D I love hot chocolate. I'm going to make some for us AND some for gifts. Thanks Kensington!!!

Kensington's Hot Chocolate Mix

1 lb of Nestle's Instant Chocolate Milk mix.
1 lb of Coffee creamer
1 lb of Powdered sugar
1 lb of Dry Instand Milk Powder

Mix all together. It wil make about a gallon size container. I make four batches at one time when giving it for Christmas. My kids drink it as fast as I can make it.

Instructions for making a mug:

Mix 1/4 cup of Hot Chocolate mix with 8 oz of Hot water and stir. (Keep in mind, most mugs are bigger than 8oz.)

I tie a 1/4 cup scoop on the side of my jars. Tupperware used to make them, and they were only 50 cents each. They are not a measuring cup, they are a scoop.

HOLIDAY GIFT: Snickerdoodle Biscotti

This is a contribution from Aggie01 at Family Life Forums. Thanks Aggie for letting me reprint. I believe Aggie got this from the Recipezaar site. It sounds fabulous and will be perfect for the person who cannot have nuts or does not like them. I cannot wait to try this one!

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
3 large eggs
cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg white

Preheat Oven to 350.
Measure flour into a large bowl using the scoop and level method.
Add 1 C. Sugar, Baking powder, and salt.
Mix Oil Vanilla and ewhole eggs in a small bowl and add to the large bowl, your dough will be dry and quite crumbly.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 7 or 8 times.
Divide in half. Shape each portion into a roll about 8 inches long, and place them a six or so inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.
Flatten each roll to 1 inch thick.
Combine the 2 Tbsp. Sugar and cinnamon, then gently brush the tops of the rolls with the egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Remove from the sheet and cool for 15 minutes.
Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut sides down on the cookie sheet again.
Reduce oven temp to 325 and then bake 10 more minutes, turn over and bake 10 more.
They'll be soft in the middle but will harden as they cool.
Cool completely on a wire rack.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Chicken Corn Chowder

It was about 20 degrees here today, and when the mercury dips, I feel the need for soup. Warm, comforting soup. Tonight I experimented, and it's seemed to pay off. I'm serving with a nice slice of corn bread.

Chicken Corn Chowder

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized chunks
2 large carrots, cut in half and sliced
2 stalts of celery, sliced
1/2 onion, small dice
2 cups frozen corn
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup flour
1 14.5 oz can chicken stock
4 Cups milk
2 boulion cubes, crushed
dash red pepper
dash nutmeg
1 tsp parsley flake

Brown chicken chunks, set aside.

In large soup pot, melt butter (salt & pepper to taste while cooking). Add diced vegetables and garlic and sweat/saute them until tender (salt & pepper to taste while cooking). Sprinkle in flour, stirring well to avoid lumps. Pour in chicken stock. Heat till boiling, reduce heat to simmer. Add chicken and milk. Bring back to a boil on low heat (this will take some time, don't be tempted to increase the heat or you'll scald the milk and it won't taste right). Sprinkle in crushed boullion and seasonings. Continue to allow to stay at a low simmer until thickened. Serve. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

I haven't had a whole bowl yet, but I'm not sure there's going to be any left if I keep stealing tastes! I cannot wait until dinner!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

HOLIDAY GIFT: Almond Biscotti

This year, we are giving a Coffee Basket to all of the Grandparents. It will have two coffee mugs hand decorated by our children. 2 lbs of a good coffee, chocolate spoons and, of course, Almond Biscotti for dipping! Here is a recipe I found for it, that I did a practice run of tonight. Tastes wonderful, will even be better after I dip them in chocolate tomorrow!

1 Cup blanched whole almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 Cups all purpose flour
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool, then chop coarsely. Set asid.

Reduce heat to 300. Place parchment paper on baking sheet. (I did not do this as I used stoneware and it's not necessary - parchment paper here is used to keep the dough from getting "wet" during baking).

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs and extracts together.

In a large bowl sift in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. While stirring (or using mixer) gradually add egg mixture until soft dough forms, add almonds about halfway thru. With floured hands, divide dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each half of dough into a 10 X 2 inch log on a lightly floured surface. Place logs onto the prepared baking sheet and bake 35-40 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Remove from pans to a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes.

Move logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated/bread knife, slice dough on the diagonal in 1/2 inch slices. Arrange evenly, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes, turn slices over, bake about another 10 minutes. Turn off oven, leaving biscotti there for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool.

Once dry, store in an airtight container.

IF DESIRED: Dip in melted chocolate and allow to set on wax paper. (makes them all that much better when you dip them into coffee, tea or cocoa!!!)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Seven Layer Bars

MMMMM...another Christmas cookie recipe! I found this one in the coupon section of the paper one year. I made it that year as an experiment, thinking that I would like them but because they were so rich I wouldn't eat the whole batch in one or two days. HA, YEAH, RIGHT. They are RICH, very rich, sweet, decadent and delicious. However, I caution you, they are addicting and very hard to stop eating! I modified the recipe since the original didn't seem to fill the spaces well. As with any recipe, I tweek it to make it to my liking. My husband loves these cookies.

Seven Layer Bars

3/4 Cup butter
2 1/4 Cup grahm cracker crumbs
1 1/2 Cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 Cups butterscotch chips
2 Cups coconut (this can be adjusted a little, we like coconut here)
1 1/2 Cups sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 Cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.

Place butter in a 13 X 9" pan and place in the oven for it to melt. Swirl and coat butter to cover the pan. Spread grahm cracker crumbs over the bottom of the pan and press into the butter. Layer chocolate chips over the crumbs, then butterscotch chips, then the nuts. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the nuts - try to get as evenly as possible so that almost the entire top is covered (there will be "holes" but make sure they aren't more than a 1/4 inch or so). Sprinkle coconut evenly on top and slightly press into the condensed milk layer.

Bake about 25 minutes or until the coconut is starting to turn golden brown and everything is melted. Let cool COMPLETELY before cutting into bars...and make them like 1" X 2" because these are so rich...this may take a while!

I store mine in an airtight container in the fridge. I like how the cold makes everything hard and gives it a candy bar feel to it. They also freeze really well, so you could make a whole batch and freeze half for another time of year also.