Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thunder Cookies, or more commonly called: No Bakes

Having several young children at the same time posed some interesting challenges.  One of them whas their combined hysteria during thunder storms.  One would start to frown, then another cry then another screem until everyone was very worried and scared.  Then, I decided to change their fear into love, and I told them that whenvever there was a big thunderstorm, we would make "Thunder Cookies."  As the sky started to darken, instead of looking for a place to hide, my children would look to the skies for lightning and count the seconds for the thunder.  If it was close enough and often enough, it qaualified as a big enough storm for "Thunder Cookies."  Some weeks, during the spring, we would make several batches of these until finally I was sick of them.  Along with that, I was becoming more self conscious and realized that it is not so good to eat so much suger, so we stopped the tradition (to prevent Thunder Thighs.)

Thunder Cookies

 2 cups sugar
5 TBS unsweetened cocoa
½ cup milk
½ cup butter or margarine

Combine cocoa and sugar and milk and butter. Cook in microwave on high for 4 minutes. Stir. Cook one additional minute. (Or, I place in a pan on the stove and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes.)

½ tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups of peanutbutter

Mix well, then add 3 cups Oat Meal

Drop on wax paper and cool. (Yummy)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Peanut Butter Granola

I have tried countless times to make good homemade granola, but I never was satisfied with the results.  The recipes seemed temperamental and the granola often too dry and too crunchy with burned spots and "raw" spots all over.  I finally stumbled across this recipe in our local newspaper.  The original calls for sugar, but I am on a no sugar kick right now, so I've replaced that with Agave.  I also added lots of chopped almonds.  This is so yummy as a snack, trail mix or as a great alternative to cold cereal. It is also very easy to make and seems "fail safe."  The granola is a little soft, which my family prefers, and I never worry about chipping a tooth on it.  :)

4 Tablespoons  butter
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (all natural of course)
1 cup of any ratio combined honey and agave  (That is 1 cup total,  I use 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup agave but you can use all honey, all agave, etc.)
1-2 teaspoons real vanilla (I lean towards 2)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 cups almonds (Lightly chopped in blender)
3 1/2 cups rolled oats (do not use quick cooking!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Have an ungreased rimmed baking sheet at hand.  (I use a pastry sheet on mine)
Combine the peanut butter, butter and honey/agave in a microwave-safe bowl.  (Or just do it on the stove top) Heat the mixture JUST UNTIL THE BUTTER MELTS.  (You don't want to cook this stuff)  Your mixture should be smooth, if not heat it a little more.
Add vanilla, salt and almonds.  (I like almond chunks in my granola so, I am sure to not over chop them.  I just place them in my Vitamix blender and pulsate for a few seconds) 
Then add the oats and mix until they are evenly coated.  Spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stir, (or perhaps I should say, try to flip the chunks over so they can cook on the other side) and cook for 5 minutes longer.  Let it cool on the baking sheet, then break it up into bite-size pieces.  Store in an airtight container.
For a chocolate variation:  Add 1/2 cup of cocoa after melting the butter/peanut butter mixture, and stir until smooth.

You're Gonna Love It!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Best No Sugar Chocolate Cupcakes Ever!

This is what I make when I need to treat myself to something wonderful.  I adapted this recipe from one found on the back of a container of Hershey's Cocoa.  I am so proud of the frosting.  It is made with cream cheese and whipped cream and cocoa.  It adds such a wonderfulness to these cupcakes that you don't miss the sugar.  These cupcakes could be served at a children's birthday party with no complaints from the guests.  I used to make the cupcakes, with no sugar, then let my guests frost them themselves with a choice between sugar full frosting and sugar free frosting.   But now, I cheerfully serve them beautifully frosted with this sugar free version.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

The thing about using fruit and agave as substitutes for sugar is that sugar is a great flavor enhancer.  When you omit sugar from a recipe, you are also omitting some of the flavor.  That needs to be replaced with spices or other rather strong flavored things.  These pumpkin spice cookies use pumpkin, applesauce and agave to sweeten them.  The Cinnamon and cloves helps add  the flavor and the sugar free cream cheese filling makes them extra special.  OK, this is stating the obvious.  Sugar-free does not necessarily mean good for you.  This cream cheese frosting is full of fat.  If that concerns you, then don't fill your cookies.  I really like this recipe because there is so little fat in the cookie and you have so much nutrition in the pumpkin and applesauce and wheat flour.  You can substitute about 3/4 cup of wheat flour with 3/4 cup of buckwheat flour for added nutrition.  Very yummy, and it is a shame to call them cookies.  I sometime like to call them "little healthy snacks."  But my children like them to be called cookies.  To make them sinfully delicious, add about 2 cups of chocolate chips before baking them.

Chicken Noodle Soup

For hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of years moms have been making chicken soup for their ailing loved ones. The wives tale, that chicken soup can help you get over a cold or the flu quickly, has actually been proven in recent years. Apparently, it's the marrow in the bones of the chicken that provide essential nutrients needed for fighting off the flu. To make this chicken soup, it is necessary to boil an entire chicken, bones and all for about 4 hours in order to get that marrow out of the bones. It may sound less than appetizing but you probably actually eat marrow regularly. That is where Jello comes from. Only that store bought gelatin has been stripped of all its redeeming qualities. Trust in the goodness of the earth. Next time you or your family get sick, try this time honored recipe. But, you don't need to wait for the flu, it tastes wonderful when you are feeling great as well. The recipe for homemade noodles follows this blog.

Homemade Noodles

I have been making homemade noodles for many, many years.  And it still seems like a lot of work, but they taste so much better than the packaged ones that can sit on the shelf for half an eternity, (and probably have.)  I use one recipe for all my noodles, it just keeps things simple.  This is a basic egg noodle recipe made with whole wheat flour.  I have a noodle press, and when I want to make amazing noodles, I keep the dough a little stiffer and put it through the noodle press a few times so they are very thin.  I then cut them for soup, or lasagna or even ravoli.  But. many times I am too busy to pull the noodle press out, so I just make the dough a little softer and roll it as thin as I can with my rolling pin.  Then I cut them and place them right into the pot.  When I do it this way, they are a bit soggy and "fluffy" but still way better than the old dried store bought ones.  If you really are organized, you can make yours with a noodle press, and then cut them, and then freeze them!  Yummy! and handy.  We just eat them too quickly for me to actually freeze any, but when I do, they turn out great!  No deception here, these are time consuming!  Good Luck!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chocolate Milk Shake

One of my big weaknesses is chocolate. I especially love a chocolate milk shake to sip while I de-stress. This chocolate milk shake is not made with ice cream and has no sugar and actually is quite healthy, making that relaxing moment guilt free. Yea! My children love it too! Make sure you use a high quality blender (Blendtec or Vitamix). All measurments are approximate (be inspired).

Place in blender:
3 large ripe bananas
1 large tray of ice cubes
1 teaspoon on vanilla
1 Tablespoon of Agave or Honey
2 Tablespoons Cocoa
4 cups of milk

Blend on high until nice a smooth. Add a straw and enjoy!
For a variation add one of the following:
2 Tablespoons Peanut Butter
2 teaspoons flax seed
1/2 cup berries (frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup powdered milk (Extra smoothness and protein)