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Monday, September 15, 2014

A Delicious Way To Dry Plums

I'm just not a big prune fan…but I do like plums. We have two plum trees that provided us with more plums than we could eat and share.  Being fans of dried fruit, we decided to try drying the plums sliced like many other fruits.  

We learned a couple things from this…they take twice as long to dry, and they are wonderful!!

Just place sliced plums on dryer racks and set the temp at 135. Let dry least 6-8 hours but depending on thickness of slices it could take longer  .

When they are dry there should be no juicy or squishy parts on the fruit. As you can see in the photo below.

 Place in freezer bag or other air tight containers and store in a cool part of the house for 6-12 months.

We like to add cut up dried fruit to our green salad, cereal, trail mix, or just eat alone as a snack.
Weight watchers count 3 points for 1/4 cup of dried fruit.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Frozen Pears - Simple & Delicious

Too many pears and out of ideas? Join the club!!
I have been drying pears and apples for almost a month now.

But here is a really tasty treat my husband and I came up with late one night when we were dreading the thought of filling the food dryer one more time. Don't get me wrong….we love dried fruit, but we have our limits!!

This is so simple...
Spread the cut pieces of pear on a large baking pan lined with parchment paper. Let pears freeze completely. I just leave them in the freezer over night or while I am at work. Then dump frozen pear pieces into freezer bags and return to freezer.

Now you can have a healthy, refreshing, fat free  treat any time. And what a great snack for kids!
Of course you can also use these frozen pears for fruit crisps and cobblers throughout the year.

Weight watcher followers will love this. It's such a delicious treat and fruit is non-counting when it's not in a recipe…correct?  Don't forget grapes are a yummy frozen treat too!

Here are the pears after they are frozen.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Insanely Delicious German Chocolate Brownies

Oh yes…you need to make these!

And be sure to freeze some too…these are better than candy!!
I'm hoping you can see the chocolate frosting layer under that coconut pecan layer.

It all happened as a misunderstanding of my  directions given to my husband as he helped me prepare dessert for a little family gathering.  The result…AMAZING!

We had to freeze them just to stop eating them they were so good.  The next day when my husband went to grab just "one" for a snack…a whole new problem! We loved them even better frozen. There is just no way to escape these delicious brownies…but for sure they will be enjoyed!!

Make these gluten free or regular. Use a box mix or one of your favorite brownie recipes. We used a box mix for ours. There are many gluten free box mixes available.  Frostings used are pre-made and gluten and dairy free too. Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style Classic Chocolate and Coconut Pecan are said to be gluten and dairy free. Be sure to always read labels... companies change things periodically.

Insanely Delicious German Chocolate Brownies           Makes a 9"x12" pan
Purchased brownie mix for 9"x12" pan, gluten free or regular. Or your own favorite recipe.
eggs -as on directions on box mix.
water -as on directions on box mix.
oil -as on directions on box mix.
Purchased chocolate frosting.   Or your own favorite recipe.
Purchased coconut pecan frosting.  Or your own favorite recipe.

Preheat oven to temperature given on box. Prepare brownies and pour into a 9"x12" baking pan sprayed with a non-stick product.  Bake as on directions on box.

Let cool completely. Frost brownies with chocolate frosting covering entire pan. Frost over chocolate with coconut pecan frosting.

Serve up and enjoy….or freeze.

It is much easier to grab individual servings if you cut them before freezing. And be sure to freeze in a good quality container to prevent freezer burn.

Your welcome!  : )

Monday, September 8, 2014

GF Sweet Potato & Quinoa Tacos

Trying something new can be pleasantly surprising...

This amazing meal is fast, delicious and healthy. And it's perfect for a Meatless Monday!

GF Sweet Potato & Quinoa Tacos     
1-2 Medium Sweet potatoes,  baked or microwaved. Maybe a leftover sweet potato from another day. Cut into medium sized cubes. Lightly brush with olive oil and lightly salt. Broil right before serving.
Quinoa & Black Bean Pilaf or Red Inca Quinoa & Bean Pilaf, prepared.
Soft corn tortillas - gently heated in a skillet lightly coated with a non-stick cooking spray. Wrap warm tortillas in foil until ready to serve.

Pica De Gallo
chopped lettuce

So incredibly easy and delicious. This is one of my husband's favorite meatless meals.
This dinner idea and photos are from my daughter. In her tacos she used the Quinoa & Black Bean Pilaf. Both pilafs are delicious.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lower Fat Banana Bread

This Banana Bread is a favorite at our house and is easily made gluten free as well. As you may know, I make the regular one for my son and husband, and the gluten free for my daughter and myself.

I needed to make a lower fat version for a family member but didn't want to lose any of the flavor. I am betting you won't be able to tell the difference in this lower fat recipe.

Lower Fat Banana Bread:                     Makes 2 Loaves
1/2 cup butter, softened  (or Earth Balance for vegan or dairy free)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups mashed bananas
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg and 2 whites or egg replacer equal to 2 eggs for vegans.
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups unbleached flour , or Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour plus 1 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum for gluten free.
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk or regular low-fat milk with 1 Tbl vinegar, let sit for about 5 minutes. Replace with Soy Milk (or any dairy free product) if need dairy free.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. I have a convection oven setting, but I prefer to bake this on regular bake.
This recipe will make 2 loaves. We eat one fresh and either share the other one or freeze it.

Prepare loaf pans by spraying bottom and sides with Pam and cutting wax paper to fit in bottom of pan. This will ensure easy removal of the finished product. To do this, place loaf pan on top of wax paper. Trace around the bottom of the pan with a pen. Cut out traced shape and place in bottom of loaf pan. Works great for cakes as well. I prefer this method over greasing and flouring pans.

Cream butter and sugar. Add bananas, applesauce, egg and whites (or egg replacer) and vanilla. Blend well.
In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt and nuts together.
Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk (or substitute)
Be careful not to over mix. A quick bread should be tender, over mixing will toughen the final product.
Pour into prepared loaf pans
Bake for 50-60 minutes. Test with toothpick or gently touching top center, it should gently spring back.
Set on cooling racks for 10 minutes.

Run a knife around edges and carefully remove from pan.  Remove wax paper and let cool to room temperature.

 No one waits that long at our house to dig into these fresh loaves, but it will cut easier.

This recipe can easily be made into delicious muffins as well. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Cool completely if planning on freezing the extra loaf  (or muffins)  and simply place in a good quality gallon size freezer bag. 


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mark Walkley's Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake

This amazing cheesecake is from a  firefighter/gourmet cook, and a friend. It is worth every minute it takes to make.

Be aware…this is a rich and addicting dessert, you won't want to put your fork down!  I promise.

Each layer is just as delicious as the next…in fact each layer could be its own separate dessert!!

Mark Walkley's Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake            
You will need one 9" or 10" springform cheesecake pan.

1 cup unsalted, dry roast peanuts, chopped.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs, gluten free if needed.
1/2 cup brown sugar.
1 cube (1/2) cup butter, melted.
Combine and press onto the bottom of pan. Chill one hour.

Chocolate Layer:
2 cubes (1 cup) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs
9 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in eggs, melted chocolate and vanilla.
Spread onto crust and chill one hour.

Peanut Butter Layer:
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1/2 cup sugar
1 cube (1/2) cup butter, softened
Whip heavy cream and vanilla until close to somewhat stiff peaks...kind of between soft and stiff. Set aside.
Mix cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and butter. Add to cream mixture. Spread over chocolate layer. Chill 1-2 hours. Until firm enough to spread ganache over.

3 oz semi-sweet chocolate.
1/2 cup heavy cream.
In a small sauce pan heat chocolate and cream. Bring to a low boil and stir until mixture thickens. Watch carefully and stir continuously. Pour warm ganache over chilled pie.
Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the ganache. Chill 1 -2 hours or freeze until ready to serve.

Remove outer ring of springform pan and serve.
We cut this dessert into smaller pieces, serving about 12.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blueberry-Lemon Zest Muffins

This is a recipe I've been wanting to make all summer. I found it on platter made as a bread, Lemon-Blueberry Bread. But for us making muffins is just more practical. I made a couple of other changes too - like adding more blueberries…the more the better right?
Please check out this awesome blog, Platter Talk  for more wonderful recipes, or click on the link for the original recipe.

Here is my version with vegan and gluten free options too.

Blueberry-Lemon Zest Muffins                             
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, or a gluten free flour blend.
1 cup sugar
juice from 1 small lemon
2 eggs, or egg replacer equal to 2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp  xanthan gum for gluten free muffins
1/3 cup butter, or a non-dairy type product
1 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries
zest from 1 small lemon
1/2 cup milk, or any non-dairy type product  (I used soy)

Preheat oven to 375.
Line muffin pan with paper or silicone liners, or use a non-stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl add flour, baking powder and salt. And xanthan gum if gluten free. Stir together then set aside.

In a small mixing bowl add eggs or egg replacement, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well. Melt butter or non-dairy butter product, then add to egg mixture.

Add liquid mixture to large mixing bowl with dry ingredients and stir. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin pan about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.

Remove from pan and bite into a sweet, flavorful muffin.

And remember, muffins freeze well and make a quick breakfast or snack. Defrost about 45 seconds, or just pack frozen in a lunch.