Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chocolate Truffles Guest Post from That Skinny Chick Can Bake!!!

Happy Wednesday Blog Friends!

Please allow me to introduce you to Lizzy.  Today she is providing a guest post for me.

Lizzy writes the blog That Skinny Chick Can Bake!!! which is pure decadence.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading Lizzy's posts.  Not only are they filled with terrific recipes and absolutely gorgeous photos...but they are fat free :)

See I can't actually eat all of the goodness that Lizzy puts out there, which is probably a REALLY good thing.

So please sit back relax and enjoy the goodness Lizzy has to offer:

Shhhhhh....don't tell my hubby that I have a friend with a blog titled My Naturally Frugal Family.  It will be our little secret, OK?  He seems to think I'm a little compulsive when it comes to shoes and white dishes.  He doesn't seem to mind the stacks of Ghirardelli chocolate bars in my baking pantry, but he just can't get past all those shoes!  Let's get on to the reason you're here...a delicious recipe.

Rachel has been such a kind and supportive foodie friend, that I was honored when she asked me to guest post while she's out of town for the holidays.  I hope you're not too tired of chocolate...and even if you are, file this one away for Valentine's Day.  I spotted a recipe for these simple truffles in the January/February 2012 issue of Cook's Illustrated and knew they would be part of the goodie trays I dole out to the neighbors for Christmas.

These really don't take long if you don't count the cooling and chilling times.  They are a little messy, so keep dusting your palms with cocoa powder while you're rolling them into little balls. And if they're not perfect, just call them rustic.  Nobody will care what they look like once they sink their teeth into one of these babies!  Thanks, Rachel, for letting me share this decadent confection with all your readers!!! And Happy New Year to you all!!!

Chocolate Truffles...adapted from Cook's Illustrated

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces

1 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Line 8 inch square pan with foil.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, microwave chocolate, stopping and stirring at 30 second increments, till the chocolate is almost completely melted.  Heat cream in microwave safe measuring cup till warm, about 30 seconds.  Stir corn syrup and vanilla into cream, then add to chocolate.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for a few minutes.  Stir till mixture is uniform, then add butter and mix till well incorporated.

Spread chocolate ganache evenly in prepared pan and allow to cool at room temperature for 2 hours.  Cover and transfer to refrigerator. Cool at least 2 hours.

Sift together cocoa and powdered sugar, then sift again.  Place in flat pan, suitable for rolling the truffles.

Remove chilled ganache from pan by lifting up foil.  Peel off foil and set ganache on cutting board.  Let warm up a couple minutes, then cut ganache into 64 equal sized squares, starting by cutting the large square into 4 even parts, then those 4 squares into 4 even parts, then repeating twice more till you have 64 squares.

Dust hands with cocoa mix and roll each square into a ball. Roll balls in cocoa, shake off excess and place truffles in an air tight container. Store in refrigerator, and let come to room temperature before serving.

Makes 64.

Lizzy thank you so much for providing this post. 

Friends I hope you give this recipe a go, either post Christmas/Valentine's Day/or just because.

Have a great day!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas is what? Guest Post by The Healthy Hippie

Well it is another 364 days until Christmas comes back around.

Another 364 days before we eat too much and enjoy the company of loved ones.

I know after the holidays (the period from Thanskgiving to Christmas) I always feel very full. 

I've had a few too many rich meals and desserts for my normal eating habits.

Well I have for you today a delicious soup from Dani who writes the blog The Healthy Hippie.

Dani's blog is always chock full of suggestions on foods to eat to stay healthy as well as numerous delicious recipes.

So without further ado here is Dani:

Tips on how to cleanse the body after the Holiday Season!

We all know what the Holiday truly means, at least in the kitchen…lots of eating!

It’s very easy to get off track when we are enjoying so many delicious treats with family and friends. That’s why it is so important to plan plenty of cleansing meals to help detoxify the body for the New Year.

One must keep in mind naturally cleansing ingredients such as beets, legumes (lentils, garbanzo beans, or any kind of bean), avocados, blueberries, cabbage, celery, Chia seeds, garlic, grapefruit, kale…just to name a few.

It’s a good idea to set up an “After Holiday” meal plan, containing all or some of these clean ingredients.

Here is one recipe to help you get back on track this coming New Year: Lentil Soup

- 1lb dried, uncooked lentils
- 1 carrot, graded
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/4 onion, chopped
- Paprika
- Salt & Pepper
- Rinse the lentils well to ensure they are free of any dirt
- Place clean lentils in a large cooking pot, and fill with water double the height of the lentil
- Set water to boil
-Once water has boiled, add water if necessary, do not let the lentils burn or absorb all of the water.
- Prepare your veggies: grade the carrot, chop the onion, and mince the garlic.
- Saute the veggies in a sauce pan with a little bit of Olive Oil.
Part 2:
- Once lentils are tender to taste (not mushy) add your veggies
- Season soup with lots of Paprika
- Salt & Pepper to taste.
Let the entire soup simmer for about 10 minutes until all flavors have come together.

Thank you so much Dani with this terrific soup.

Dani also has a terrific on-line store, Little Green Pantry, that she runs selling natural and homeopathic products for all members of your family. 

I purchased some chia seeds that I have been putting in my smoothies each morning and they are just fantastic.  The seeds were a fantastic price and the shipping was super quick.

So stop by and let Dani know I sent you.

Have a great day recouperating from Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hop on Over to My House

Can I tell you what joy it is to have a package waiting on your front porch when you get home?

Seriously I love getting mail and boxes.

This week I got this box on front porch:

You can't see it but I did a little dance (scarred the neighbors a little) and tore into it to see what the goodies were.

Do you like what you see?

Me too :)

This is Lollihop.

Lollihop is a subscription service which, monthly, delivers to your door a box of treats.

These aren't just any treats they are healthy and organic.

The subscriptions start at $18.95 a month (what better last minute gift than this as Christmas is only 2 days away).

The items in the box are hand curated by nutritionists, who ensure the healthy quality and then taste test to make sure customers will be satisfied.

This is a great way to be exposed to new foods and sample something before you consider buying a full size version.

The selections change monthly, but just look what December had in store:

I lost the Larabar to my daughter who loves a "bar" and the Pop Corners were snatched by my oldest son who, at 9, is a snacking machine.

I was super pleased with the selections and variety (plenty of salty and sweet).

I don't know if I would buy the subscription for myself I think I would have more joy giving it to a friend and letting them see how good healthy food can be...afterall I do so want to help bring people into a healthier way of life.

Would you like to try Lollihop?  What sort of foods would you want in your box if you got one?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brownie Bites...or balls?

So I have been baking my not so little @ss off.

This past weekend I baked 8 dozen cookies, an apple pie, and these:

Chocolate covered brownie bites/balls.


I think I hit the jackpot with this one.

Now I know balls have been very popular around the blog world (traditionally in cake form).

However somewhat of a non-conformist that I am I decided to make my balls with brownies.

These were to bring into my office, so in an effort to help my peeps I made these vegan and used a very popular recipe from Lindsay at Happy Herbivore found here.

To make these you prepare the brownies as Lindsay instructs.

Allow the brownies to cool and then crumble them in a bowl.

To the brownie crumbles I added the following mixture:

1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp almond milk

This makes yours the brownies easier to work with  and put into ball form.

I scooped out the balls and put them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and allowed them to freeze overnight.

The next day I melted semi-sweet chocolate in a double broiler and coated the balls.

A quick side note:  If you are going to put sprinkles, or decoration, on top you need to do that after you coat each ball and not wait until the end (other wise the chocolate will be to hard to put a topping on).

Put them back in the freezer to harden up and then they were ready to spring on my unsuspecting work friends.

My work friends have come to know that I am a little crazy about healthy things and were not the least bit shocked when I advised black beans were in the brownies.  To my pleasure they were pleased with the result.

I do have to say that after coating the balls this was left over:

Now what do you do with that glorious chocolate so that it doesn't go to waste?

Mix it with your favorite nut butter (peanut for me) and use it for an ice cream topping...HOLY SMOKES so very awesome.

So do yourself a favor whip up some of these delicious treats and share if you really must (it is Christmas after all).

I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and be prepared because next week I have an all-star list of guest posts coming to you and you will be AMAZED at what they are bringing!

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WIAW Before Christmas

Happy Wednesday to one and all!

Welcome to the What I Ate party graciously hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons.

Let's do this and get right into the eats. 

For you I photographed my eats on Saturday, and it was a good day.

For breakfast I had an egg, kale, onion, tomato, and cheese scrambled all together with half of a Field Roast sausage.  This is completely filling and helped me keep going all day.

For lunch I was feeling a bit like Elvis and had a peanut butter and banana sandwich (I didn't fry it though) and a Virgil's Real Cola.

For an afternoon snack I was channeling Jenn and had 2 clementines (Jenn happens to eat these all the time and I have been so envious as my grocers haven't had these until now) and a handful of baby carrots.

For dinner I had steamed broccoli (fresh from my garden), potatoes au gratin, and Gardein crispy tenders.

For dessert a slice of apple pie a la mode.  The a la mode was Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean...oh there is some serious vanilla deliciousness in this.

Speaking of vanilla...

I did have a quick project that I completed on Saturday (in addition to the apple pie, 8 dozen cookies, and brownie balls I made).

I am infusing vodka with vanilla beans to make my own vanilla extract. 

I do have to wait 4-6 months for it to be ready...but the beans can be used for up to 7 years (or so says the directions on the bottle).

So have you been doing any baking this week? 

Please do head over to Peas and Crayons and see what other fantastic bloggers are eating.

I hope you have a great day and remember Christmas is only 4 days away (WOOHOO!).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm Not Nuts but I have some Winners!

Do you see what I see?

It appears that a little elf has left me a treat in my tree...well not exactly.

I was contacted by the wonderful and generous people at Enjoy Life.

They asked if I would like to try their snack mix "Not Nuts."

I thought to myself I would have to be nuts not to try it (as I have loved everything from cookies to mega chunk chocolate that I have tried of theirs).

They sent me two varieties:  Mountain Mambo (sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds, raisins, apples, chocolate chips, and cranberries).

And Beach Bash (sunflower kernels, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and apricots)

Just look inside at all of the goodness:

One small handful of this stuff and I am energized and ready to go with my hunger curbed (which definitely makes staying on task at work easier).

Plus there are only 130 calories per serving (1/4 cup). 

My suggestion would be to get a bag Not Nuts and eat a serving before the holiday parties so that you don't over eat the decadent and rich food.

If you would like to connect with Enjoy Life you can do so on Facebook and Twitter.

A side note for those with special dietary concerns the mixes are vegan and gluten free which just makes my heart happy to hear.

What do you do before a party to make sure you don't over eat?  Or do you prep all day in anticipation of the bounty of good food by eating less?

A little business I have it to announce the winners of  my two giveaways I was running.

The winner of the 32 oz of Tropical Traditions coconut oil is: Juliana (who said she would use it for her hair)
The winner of the $25 Burger King gift card is: Ms. Composure

I have sent each of you an e-mail if I don't hear back in 24 hours I will have to select another winner...I would like your prizes to ship as soon as possible :)

Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My 3rd Giveaway this week :)

As a member of Blogspark I was given an opportunity to try out Burger King's BK Crown Program.

The Crown Program is a family meal you can purchase at Burger King and includes:

WHOPPER® sandwich
WHOPPER JR.® sandwich
two small fries
two small soft drinks
Kids Meal

With the Crown Program there is a box with a code on it.  The code can be entered on Burger Kings site and will help BK decide where to contribute charitable funds.

I think this is an admirable mission as we need to make are children better global citizens and more aware of those less fortunate.

That being said I don't eat fast food and thus can't take my children to eat fast food.

However I was given a $25 gift card for Burger King and as I pondered what I would do with it, Owen (who is 9) asked if we could give it to someone less fortunate who might be hungry.

I thought this was a great idea and we did just that.

Now along with the gift card I was also given a sample Crown Program box.

So I registered for the BK site and Owen and I looked over the charities:

Wildlife Conservation Society
National Parks Conservation Association 
Have It Your Way™ Foundation

We decided on Wildlife Conservation.

It was a nice opportunity for me to have a conversation with Owen about charity and what it means to help others and the reason it is important for us to do what we can with the resources we have been given.

I mentioned in my title that this is my 3rd giveaway this without further ado:

The giveaway is a $25 gift card to Burger King.  

To win the gift card just leave a comment and on Tuesday, December 20th, I will choose a winner through

If you need a little help a question you could answer is:  Is it important for you and your family to have a fun mealtime?

I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend.

Disclosure: The BK CROWNTM/MC Program prize pack, information and coupon have been provided by Burger King Corporation through MyBlogSpark

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's GIVEAWAY time

So it has been a little like Christmas at my house.  I have won a couple of giveaways on blogs and the goods came in.  I just wanted to share them because they were such fantastic items:

2 cookbooks and a spatula from Jacqueline at The Dusty Baker (i.e. the gluten free goddess)

A gorgeous hand carved cutting board from Camille at My Fudo (this quickly has become my favorite)

Well I just wanted to give a quick shout out to those two ladies and their awesome giveaways. 

Feeling good about getting these things has made me decide that today should start a giveaway as well from My Naturally Frugal Family.

And what am I giving away you ask?

How would you like 32 oz of Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil?

I have had the pleasure of reviewing Tropical Traditions coconut oil and I have to say I love the way it performs.

I have been doing a lot of baking since Thanksgiving and for my baked goods (cookies, cakes, and pies) I have been substituting coconut oil for vegetable.

Most recently I made my vegan banana bread in muffin form and used the coconut oil.

To me it seems that the muffins were a bit moister.

Now in this post here I put up one of my all time favorite snacks which is a toasted peanut and coconut butter sandwich.  Do you know that Tropical Traditions makes that product? 

So if you didn't want to whip it up you can get theirs ready made.

I must say the large size canister really does last a long time and the price is right.

Tropical Traditions does a great job of offering deals and coupons on their goods.

But don't just take it from me check it out for yourself.

Special Price! - 2 pints - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil 16 oz. - Buy 1 get 1 FREE!

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Now on to what you have been waiting for...The Giveaway.

To enter use the Rafflecopter below and I will select a winner in my post on Tuesday (December 20th).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Improv Challenge Vegan Eggnog Bread Pudding with Cranberry Sauce

December has been such an exciting month.

I have participated in the Mom's Crazy Cooking Challenge (here).

I made 3 dozen cookies and mailed them to fellow bloggers for the Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap (here).

Today I am participating in the Improv Challenge, hosted by Kristen at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.

For the challenge we are given two ingredients and asked to either find a recipe or create a recipe with them.

This month we had cranberries and egg nog.

Now I have never had egg nog and never been one to want to drink it, yuckiness just comes to mind thinking about it.

However I decided I had to be completely open to the idea and then a stroke of brilliance hit me...BREAD PUDDING (imagine a great shining light as I realize this is my dish).

I decided to do a little reading on bread pudding, as I've never made one, and found Paula Deen to be incredibly helpful.  So I've based my recipe today on a bread pudding she made however I veganized it (so that no animals were hurt during the cooking of this dish).

Vegan Eggnog Bread Pudding with Cranberry Sauce
adapted from Paula Deen
2 C sugar
5 eggs (used Ener-G egg replacers)
2 C Silk Egg Nog
3 C cubed French Bread (left out to stale for 24 hours)
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C Earth Balance, melted
1 C chopped almonds

Mix your eggs according to the package, then add your sugar, egg nog, and vanilla.

Pour over your cubed stale bread.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl mix brown sugar, Earth Balance, and almonds.

Pour your bread mixture into a 9x13 pan and top with the almond sugar mixture.

Place in a 350 degree over for 35-45 minutes.

For the sauce:

1 C sugar
1/2 C Earth Balance
1 egg, beaten (used Ener-G egg replacers)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C frozen cranberries
1/4 C apple jack brandy

In a pot, on medium heat, combine your Earth Balance, sugar, egg, cranberries and vanilla.  Stir together until the sugar is melted.

Add your brandy and stir well.

Serve your bread pudding and top with sauce.

My children were not huge fans of the brandy sauce and prefer just to eat the egg nog pudding on its own.

Not one to want to waste the sauce I needed to find a way to repurpose it.

I happened to have 6 banana bread muffins on hand that were over cooked (sometimes I am just asleep at the wheel and I baked the muffins WAY too long).

I decided to cube the muffins and then doctor the sauce.

I blended the sauce with 1/2 C of Silk Egg Nog and then poured that over my cubed banana bread muffins.

I let the mixture sit in the bowl for 10 minutes and then poured it into an 8x6 dish.

Baked for 40 minutes on 350 degrees.

I pulled this pink concoction out of the oven.

I was a little skeptical due to color, but the flavor really is quite awesome and the kids like this combination much better.

So please try both versions they are great for breakfast, dessert, or a dish to bring to your next holiday party.

It has been so much for participating in this Improv Challenge I cannot wait to see what next month's ingredients are.

Please check out the links below and see what other crafty bloggers have made up for us.

Improv Challenge

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WIAW In Random Order

Happy Wednesday to you all.

Welcome to my What I Ate Wednesday.  Today I decided I would mix things up and put the food in random order.  Sometimes I get a little bored looking at breakfast, then lunch, then dinner.

I would like to give a quick shout out to Jenn for hosting this, our 47th edition, of WIAW. 

Once you are done here please head over to Jenn's blog, Peas and Crayons, and see what the other lovely bloggers have been enjoying.

Afternoon snack - toasted squash seeds and a Sweet Leaf tea

Breakfast - A gorgeous huge green smoothie with chia

Dinner - Lasagna with homemade vegan ricotta

Dinner side - big green salad with mushroom vinaigrette

Dessert - bread pudding with cranberries (recipe out tomorrow)
Morning snack - navel orange and pomegranate

Do be sure to enter my giveaway that I am hosting here!

I hope you all have a wonderful day.  What have you been eating that you really enjoyed?