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Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

I had about a cup of the rhubarb puree leftover from making rhubarb margaritas a couple of weeks ago, and I absolutely hate to throw away leftovers.  So, I decided to dry it.  You could really do this with any fruit puree – be creative!  If you don’t have a fruit dryer, this does take some time (about 5-7 hours), so plan accordingly.  I had a day of house cleaning planned this past weekend though, so I was going to be home for most of the day.  Dried fruit that you buy at the store is often VERY sweet.  Making your own lets you cut down on the sugar a bit, and make the flavor more to your liking.  This would be a great snack for the kids too instead of those scary fruit roll-ups you buy at the store!

Fruit Leather, adapted from jam it, pickle it, cure it, by Karen Solomon

1 cup rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup sugar

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup of water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until rhubarb is soft, about 20 minutes.  Puree mixture into a food processor or blender.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees, or if your oven can’t get below 170 degrees, set it to its lowest temperature and lodge a wooden spoon into the door to keep it ajar.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the puree into a large rectangle of even thickness, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

Place the pan in the center of the oven for 5 to 7 hours, checking after 5 hours.  The fruit should be sticky but not wet, throughout; the center is usually the last to dry.

Once sticky all over, remove the pan from the oven and gently peel the fruit from the parchment paper, releasing it from all 4 edges first, then peeling up the middle.  Flip it over, and return it to the oven for another 30 minutes.

Tear off a clean piece of parchment or waxed paper larger than the sheet of fruit leather.  Roll 2 inches of the paper over the fruit, then from the long side roll the whole thing up like a jelly roll.  With a sharp knife, slice the rolled-up log into 1-inch pieces.

Solomen’s recipe uses apple butter to make the fruit leather, but she also suggests 1 1/2 cups of pureed bananas or 1 1/2 cups of pureed strawberries.

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The husband and I are on a healthy kick like everyone else in January, so my options for baking feel kind of limited at the moment.  With that being said, I still need to satisfy my sweet tooth.  I found this recipe for granola bars on www.allrecipes.com, and I modified it a bit with the ingredients I had on hand.  I also wanted to make this recipe a bit healthier, so I cut down on the sugar and used canola oil instead of vegetable oil.  You can use this recipe and make a number of modifications to suit your taste buds or what you have in your pantry.

Cranberry Almond Granola Bars, yields 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, cranberries, almonds and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

You can wrap these up individually in plastic wrap, or keep in a plastic bag so they will stay chewy.  They make a great snack or even breakfast.  Enjoy!

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I’d been eyeing recipes for these cute little candies for months, especially now that it’s citrus season.  My husband’s aunt Bridget, who is an amazing cook, had these candied goodies at Christmas Eve dinner.  I improvised a bit with what I had on hand in the house.  Below are the two recipes I used for the cranberries, lemon, clementine, blood orange and grapefruit peels.  They look so pretty, and taste delicious too!

Candied Orange Peels, adapted from the Food Network website

Yields about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 6 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges (or any type of citrus peel)
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions

Cut tops and bottoms off of the fruites and score them into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the fruit in large pieces, use the inside of the fruit for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Then pour off the water. Repeat 1 or 2 more times depending up how assertive you want the peels to be. (Test kitchen liked the texture of a 3 time blanch best, it also mellowed the bitterness. But it is a matter of preference.) *Note:  I blanched the grapefruit peels 6 times because they were more bitter than the oranges and lemons.  Remove the peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes (If you took the sugar’s temperature with a candy thermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230 to 234 degrees F.) Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Drain the peels, (save the syrup for ice tea.) Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack, for 4 to 5 hours. Return to the sugar to store.

Sugared Cranberries, yields 9 1/3 cups servings

Ingredients

  • 2  cups  granulated sugar
  • 2  cups  water
  • 2  cups  fresh cranberries
  • 3/4  cup  superfine sugar

Preparation

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.

Note: The steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.

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We had a couple of friends over this weekend for  breakfast, so I wanted to prepare a few things that I could prep the night before.  I decided on an egg casserole with Italian sausage and sun-dried tomatoes, with cranberry muffins.  Both turned out wonderful.  I was a bit unsure about the muffins because the batter looked a little dry, but they were a big hit!  They also called for fresh cranberries, which was a nice change from most recipes out there.  I also made a cranberry-maple butter to accompany the muffins.  This would also be great on pancakes, waffles, even toast.  Just warm it up in the microwave and voila!  Delicious.  Below are the recipes, with my small changes.  Originals can be found in the links in the titles.

Fresh Cranberry Muffins

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)

Ingredients

  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2/3  cup  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  cup  chopped fresh cranberries
  • 2/3  cup  skim milk
  • 1/4  cup  butter, melted
  • 1  teaspoon  dried orange peel, grated
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract (I prefer Nielsen Massey brand)
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in cranberries; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, rind, vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.

Note: These muffins freeze well. Bake them ahead, cool completely, and store in freezer bags. To serve, thaw at room temperature. Reheat in aluminum foil at 300º for 10 to 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Cranberry Maple Butter

Yield: 1 3/4 cups (serving size: 1 tablespoon)

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 1  (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2  cup  maple syrup
  • 6  tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract

Preparation

Combine the water and cranberries in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until cranberries pop. Place cranberry mixture in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.

Combine cranberry mixture, maple syrup, sugar, and cinnamon in pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring frequently. Stir in vanilla. Cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 months.

Sausage and Egg Casserole with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella

  • 1 pound Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup fat free half and half
  • 1 cup light whipping cream
  • 2 cups grated lo-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sauté sausage in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of fork into small pieces, about 10 minutes. Add shallots and garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes and 2 tablespoons parsley; stir 1 minute. Spread sausage mixture in prepared dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Whisk eggs, egg yolks, half and half, whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese, and salt in large bowl to blend well. Pour egg mixture over sausage mixture in dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese and 2 tablespoons parsley over. Bake until top of casserole is golden brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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The second part of my weekend with apples was a slow-cooker applesauce.  Since I was busying myself with too many other baking projects that day, I needed to do the applesauce in the crock pot.  I used this recipe from www.allrecipes.com.  I used about 12 apples, but kept all of the other ingredients the same.  It turned out to be pretty tasty, but perhaps a bit too “spiced”, even with the additional apples.  Cutting the pumpkin pie spice in half is probably sufficient, and maybe even the sugar, but it all depends on your taste.  I prefer my applesauce to taste a bit more natural.  I will tell you one thing though, this was VERY easy, and tasted so good while it was still warm!  Perfect, healthy snack for a fall afternoon.

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I picked up a peck of “windfallen” apples the other day for 5 bucks.  They’re not the prettiest apples for eating, but they’re great for baking.  So I set off on Saturday to use a bunch (I still have a large bowl full I need to figure out something to do) with a few fall recipes.  The first was applesauce made in the slow-cooker, then an apple cake for breakfast the next day, and also an apple-pear crisp for dessert that night.  I ended up with granny smith, red & golden delicious, and braeburn.  The assortment of flavors complemented all of these recipes.

David Lebovitz’s recipe for the apple-pear crisp called for grappa-soaked raisins.  Since I did not have any grappa in the house, I used red wine, and I think the taste turned out well.  It wasn’t my favorite crisp, but it was tasty and the husband enjoyed it.  I think I just prefer what I grew up with – an apple crisp with an oat streusel topping.  This recipe is adapted from Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes.

Apple-Pear Crisp with Wine-Soaked Raisins and Polenta Topping

Filling:

¾ cup raisins

3 T red wine

6 medium apples

4 medium ripe pears

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Topping:

¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup walnuts, almonds, or pecans, toasted

½ cup packed light brown sugar

2/3 cup polenta or stone-ground cornmeal

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled

To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the raisins and wine and let stand until most of the wine has been absorbed, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel and core the apples* and pears and cut them into 1/3 inch slices.  Add the apples and pear slices to the wine-soaked raisins along with the granulated sugar and vanilla.  Toss well, then pack the mixture firmly into a 2-quart baking dish.

To make the topping, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, nuts, brown sugar, polenta or cornmeal, and cinnamon a few times to combine.  Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is finely broken up.  Continue to pulse until the mixture just begins to clump together.

Scatter the topping evenly over the fruit.  Bake until the topping is nicely browned and the fruit is tenders, about 50 minutes.

*Note:  I like to use an apple peeler and corer, like the one pictured here: Progressive International Apple Peeler and Corer  It makes preparing dishes like crisps, pies, applesauce so much easier!

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Ever since I saw this post on a friend’s site, www.betsylife.com, I’ve wanted to try making a homemade pop tart!  I was also intrigued because Betsy got the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs – www.smittenkitchen.com.  My husband coaches football, and during the season they have meetings on Sunday mornings.  Since they’re not out on the field, but sitting around a table, I always try to make a little something to eat.  It’s the perfect opportunity to try out new recipes, although I’m not sure a bunch of football coaches are the best critics….since they’d probably eat anything.  I did sneak one for myself when they came out of the oven, however, and they were delicious!

The recipe can be found here.  I filled mine with the cinnamon sugar filling suggested in this recipe, and Nutella.  I also made them a slightly smaller size, probably around 2″x4″.  Enjoy!

Pop Tart

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