Recipe Sharing: No-Bake Peppermint Cookie Truffles with Candy Cane Sprinkles

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

This is a recipe I found on LovaLatte last year and we all thoroughly enjoyed them. Emily is Vegan and therefore her recipe … is vegan (surprise, I know!). So if you are looking for an incredible vegan dessert … DO IT!

But last year I also looked up the nutritional info between the vegan and non-vegan options and was reminded of a certain reality: just because something is Vegan or Gluten-Free DOES NOT mean it is healthy or low-fat/calorie/whatever!

So when I decided to surprise the family with these … I went for the non-vegan options.

Ingredients:
– Package of Mint Oreos
– Bag of milk chocolate chips
– 4oz cream cheese
– Candy Canes
– Muffin cup liners

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Just five simple ingredients

Two Thoughts
– Cream Cheese – mine was the ‘light’, but in this case it doesn’t matter which you choose … so do full fat, light or the non-fat types. It is flavor and consistency that matter (so probably stay away from the ‘whipped’ stuff)
– If you buy pre-smashed ‘peppermint dust’, you are paying WAY too much and losing the opportunity to smash things with a hammer … your loss. 🙂

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Your weapon of destruction

Directions

1. Put the Oreos and candy canes in sealable plastic bags (squeeze out the air)

2. Smash them to bits.

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Former candy canes

3. Combine the Oreos and cream cheese in a mixer until they form a smooth paste. Start on lowest setting and work up … otherwise the cookies will get everywhere.

4. Using the microwave, melt the chocolate until it is smooth and creamy. Tip: it is easy to seize chocolate – so do it for 30 seconds and stir with a spoon, then in 10 second increments. You actually want to see chunk in it while you stir it, as they will work out over a few seconds of mixing.

5. Take a melon-baller or small ice cream scoop and make balls out of the cookie paste. There is no ‘right size’ … I make them large so I only get 12, but there is no reason you can’t get 24 more reasonably sized servings.

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You can dunk the cookie balls or put chocolate on the top and bottom. Either way is awesome

6. This is personal preference, I’ve done both to equal acclaim:
– Dunk the balls in the melted chocolate and transfer to the muffin cups.
– Or, put a teaspoon (ish) of chocolate at the bottom of the cup, then drop the ball on top, then put another teaspoon or so on top.

7. Sprinkle some of the smashed candy canes on top of each cup. Make sure that the chocolate is still melted while doing this so the pieces will embed.

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Just one trip to the freezer away from eating!

8. Transfer to the freezer to chill.

9. Enjoy!

And that is it for me until next week – I hope everyone who celebrates has a great Christmas, everyone who gets time off from work gets to relax and enjoy, and in general I wish the best for everyone 🙂

Recipe Sharing: Ultimate Stuffed Acorn Squash (Vegetarian, Vegan Options Included)

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Happy Friday everyone! I have a couple of posts that are incubating but not quite ready, so I wanted to share a recipe instead!

This is a vegetarian (i.e. not vegan) meal that stands alone and is quite filling. The ingredients we bought for a pre-Thanksgiving meal when we planned for my brother to join us with his kids … but when he wasn’t able to make it we ended up with a snack-dinner instead. I had made this before, and it is based on a recipe from Vegetarian Times from a couple of years ago. We were all so done with turkey and needed a day off and had all of the stuff, so Lisa pulled it together for us on her day off.

When I made it the first time I used the Chile powder in the quantity stated as well as sprinkled on the squash (something I removed) but it was too spicy for my family (I have to be careful … I can handle just about anything, they can not). The next time I made it I partially pre-cooked the squash, because I love roasted squash – and it was good but a little overcooked by the time the center set.

This time the squash was well cooked, and the filling was moist – and it was all delicious. Lisa ended up with extra filling so we cooked it by itself and it ended up a lot like corn bread you’d make to go with a pot of chili.

Here goes – and don’t be intimidated by the seemingly large ingredient list … it is pretty easy to make!

Vegan Modification:
– You create vegan butter milk similar to normal ‘home-made buttermilk’ – 1 tbsp vinegar into 1 cup of milk. Only now – non-dairy milk. Works great!
– You can also use a non-dairy cheese, or whatever you normally substitute for cheddar cheese and cream cheese substitutes
– Also – typical vegan egg substitute.

Ingredients:
3 tbsp Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.), divided
2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
½ tsp. Ancho Chile powder
½ tsp. ground coriander
3 cups fresh or frozen organic corn kernels
⅔ cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
4 Tbs. melted butter or olive oil
3 oz. soft goat cheese or low-fat cream cheese (⅓ cup)
3 oz. grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (¾ cup), plus more for sprinkling tops, optional
1 ½ cups cooked black beans or 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large poblano chile or 1 small red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
8 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling tops

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine oil and 2 tsp. minced garlic in small bowl. Brush squash halves with garlic oil, and sprinkle lightly with Ancho Chile powder (skip to make it milder) and coriander. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and place on large baking sheet.

2. Pulse 2 cups corn kernels in food processor (we used the Nutribullet) until finely chopped and milky. Set aside.

3. Whisk 1/2 tsp. each coriander and Ancho Chile powder into cornmeal, along with sugar, baking soda, salt, and cayenne (if using) in medium bowl. Set aside.

4. Whisk together buttermilk and eggs in separate bowl. Whisk in butter, then puréed corn, remaining 1 cup corn kernels, goat cheese, Cheddar, and remaining 2 tsp. garlic. Fold in cornmeal mixture with spatula, then fold in black beans, poblano chile, and green onions.

5. Divide filling among squash halves. Sprinkle each squash with extra Cheddar (if using).

6. Bake squash halves 30 to 45 minutes, or until squash are tender and filling is set. Sprinkle with green onions. Squash can be prepared 24 hours ahead, then reheated 20 minutes at 325°F.

Serve right away – you really shouldn’t even need a knife (though you’ll look more civilized if you use one!). One half-squash feeds one person, so this recipe serves 4 people. If you have more, you should be OK with this recipe up to a 3rd squash without scaling (as I say we had a bunch of extra filling).

Do you love stuffed squash? Favorite recipes?

WiAW – Loads of Food Plus Recipe Sharing “No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Recovery Cake”

Happy Wednesday – how is your week going? In our house it is the week between the 11-hour days of marching band camp and the start of school. So for some bizarre reason I decided to do a ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ post. I never thought I would do one of these … but I wanted to share a ‘food day in the life’ … well, OK – I wanted to share a favorite recovery food recipe and the post looked really sparse! Haha – enjoy!

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My incredibly typical breakfast: pear, Greek yogurt, prunes, and peanut butter tortilla wraps (or peanut butter toast)

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Lunch at work seems to consist of brought-in or catered meetings more often than not. This week we have a visitor helping us with an important run, so for a meeting we had Panera Bread – salad and a veggie wrap.

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Make-your-own pizza is a fave – this is from last week, but was awesome!

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Happy endings? My red wine and Lisa’s Martini!

Recipe Sharing

Also, I have a great recipe I want to share – it is for a recovery treat I have enjoyed since I first found it two years ago. I can’t find the blog that referred to it, but the original recipe is here.

Here is the finished product:

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Ingredients:
8oz whipping cream
16oz good quality milk chocolate
8oz Graham Crackers
8oz peanut butter
(optional 1/2 cup confectionary sugar, 2 tbsp butter)

Instructions:
1. Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan.

2. Bash or chop chocolate into small chunks and place in a bowl. Add hot cream and stand for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, line a loaf pan with parchment (or waxed) paper.

4. Stir cream and chocolate until smooth and well combined. Pour enough melted chocolate into the base of the cake to cover the bottom.

(Optional 4a. microwave the butter for 20 second to melt, stir in peanut butter to thin, and then slowly combine in the confectionary sugar to make a fudge).

5. Place a layer of Graham Crackers on top. Cover with peanut butter (or peanut butter fudge).

6. Repeat until you go through most of the chocolate.

7. Add a final layer of Graham Crackers. Drizzle remaining chocolate over the top.

8. Refrigerate (or freeze) for at least 8 hours, or longer if possible.

9. Slice thin – as you might expect this is super-rich and filling!

The original recipe offers some variations:
– Dairy Free: Replace cream with almond milk or rice milk or coconut milk. Also replace milk chocolate with dark.
– Dark Chocolate: Go for it and replace milk for dark chocolate (you might want to drizzle some honey for sweetness)
– Sweet & Salty: add some sea salt flakes on top of the peanut butter layer.

What is YOUR favorite decadent recovery food?

Recipe Sharing: Crunchy Peanut Butter Bulgur with Berries

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Happy Monday! In our house we have one with a lingering cold / sinus infection, one who seems to be headed that way, Lisa home from working overnight for inventory … and me, fortunately not sick. We are hoping to get Chris well soon as he has a trip to Quebec this weekend

I wanted to share a cool new recipe – this is one Lisa found in a recent Cooking Light and thought ‘Mike will like this’ and saved it for me. It looked interesting, but centered around something I had never used as a breakfast staple before – Bulgur. The rest of the ingredients were more or less daily staples, so I wasn’t concerned. Here we go:

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Ingredients:
– 1 cup uncooked Bulgur
– 1.5 cups milk (I used skim)
– 1 tbsp peanut butter
– 1 tbsp Greek yogurt
– 0.5 cups berries (I used frozen blueberry/strawberry/raspberry pack)
– 1 tsp chopped nuts (I used pecans because I have a bag from Christmas, but peanuts are a better choice)

Directions:
– (MAKE AHEAD) Combine 1 cup uncooked Bulgur and 1.5 cups milk in a bowl.
– Stir, cover and refrigerate overnight. Note: this is enough for about a week.
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– Fluff/stir the following morning (all liquid is absorbed)
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– Put 3/4 cup of the Bulgur in a microwave safe bowl (cereal bowl was perfect size for me).

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– Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.

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– Stir in 1 tbsp peanut butter
– Top with 1 tbsp Greek yogurt
– Add fruit on top
– Sprinkle nuts over the top
– Enjoy!

Nutrition: Based on my modifications of the original recipe:
Calories: 297
Fat: 12.3g
Saturated fat: 2.3g
Protein: 14.8g
Carbohydrate: 43.5g
Fiber: 11.9g
Sodium: 126mg

Conclusions:
I had mentioned on Instagram that I was trying something new with Bulgur and that if it worked I would post on it … suffice to say this worked well! I was thrilled with how this came out – the Bulgur is light on flavor but pleasant in terms of taste and texture.

The rest of it was easy – my daily breakfast routine consists of peanut butter (toast), fruit and Greek yogurt … so once I liked the Bulgur by itself this was an easy win. The other great thing is that due to the amount of fiber and protein, you will be full all morning long … at least I was!

Enjoy – and if you try it, let me know!

Recipe Sharing – Vegetarian Lasagna

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I have always joked that I could be a vegatarian if I didn’t have to give up the occasional steak. But the reality is that while I could easily shift to a 99% vegetarian lifestyle, due to plant and tree allergies Lisa was struggling after only a few days of my vegetarian dishes despite really enjoying them.

The recipe I used was based on the one at AllRecipes, but I cut the fat and calories more than in half while upping the veggie factor significantly!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) package lasagna noodles (wheat if you can find it)
  • 1 zucchini – sliced or shredded
  • 3 carrots – sliced or shredded
  • 2 stalks celery – sliced or shredded
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or spray pan with cooking spray, which I did)
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars pasta sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (I prefer fresh … unless it looks like it did at our grocery store!)
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese (I used fat-free Sargento, part-skim is good as well)
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (again I got the fat-free package)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Note: shredding vegetables in the food processor will give a more homogeneous texture, whereas my sliced vegetables were chunkier. It is all a matter of preference – but if you are trying to hide more veggies in the recipe, shredding is one option!

Directions

1.Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Rinse with cold water, and drain.

2.In a large saucepan, cook and stir mushrooms, onion, and garlic until fragrant and onions are translucent. Add in green peppers, carrots, celery, zucchini, and red pepper and cook until heated through. Stir in pasta sauce and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Note: if using ‘thick & chunky’ sauce varieties you will achieve boiling faster and need to lower the heat to maintain a slow simmer.

3.Mix together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, and eggs.

4.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

5. Spread 1 cup tomato & veggie mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch baking dish (or as needed to get a good layer). Add a layer of lasagna noodles. Build the next layer with about half of the ricotta mix, then half the sauce mix, and sprinkle some parmesan cheese. Repeat for the next layer holding back about a half cup of sauce.Top with lasagna noodles, the remaining sauce and finally the remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.

5.Bake, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy! And if you try it, let me know how it turns out!