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muddybuddies1

If you’ve never tried Chex Muddy Buddies (also known by many as Puppy Chow) read the rest of this post and go make some IMMEDIATELY.  You’ll life will be forever changed for the better!  I can’t resist the stuff and could probably eat it by the bucket load, as could my kids.  However, they are definitely high in sugar and I was eager to find a way not to feel completely terrible for giving it to my girls as a daytime snack.  My solution was this:

Step 1. Replace half the semi-sweet chocolate chips with dark chocolate chips

Step 2. Cut the powdered sugar down to just a 1/2 cup (as opposed to 1 1/2 cups)

Step 3. Add a 1/2 cup ground flax to make up for the reduced powdered sugar to coat the cereal and add a little healthiness

The result is a 44% decrease in sugar!  It goes from 16.8g per serving to 9.4g – still enough to qualify as a treat, but a big improvement and just as yummy (plus consider the fact that most granola bars and flavored yogurts have WAY more sugar than this).  My girls didn’t notice a thing when I made the switch.  So here is the adjusted recipe in full for those who don’t have it memorized like me 🙂

Healthified Chex Muddy Buddies:

  • 9 cups Chex cereal (I use Rice Chex, but you can use any kind you like)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (all natural with no added sugar such as Laura Scudder’s)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Put Chex into a bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in the microwave until melted and smooth, stirring about every 20 seconds.  Once melted and smooth, add vanilla to the chocolate mixture and stir.  Pour chocolate over cereal and stir to get all the cereal evenly coated.  In another bowl, combine the ground flax and powdered sugar and stir to combine.  Pour the cereal into a large tupperware or zip-top bag, then add the flax/sugar mixture, seal it up and shake so that all the cereal gets coated by the flax/sugar.  Once it’s all coated, pour it out into a single layer onto wax paper and let cool.  Once cooled, store it in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.

Enjoy!

muddybuddies2

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shortbread2I love love LOVE to bake, but almost all (okay, ALL) of my favorite, regular recipes involve chocolate in some way – pretty much the only exception are the holiday shortbread cookie press cookies that my mom always made, which are therefore a part of my heritage so the absence of chocolate is okay in this one and ONLY instance.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found a recipe for shortbread cookies in a magazine (originally for lime / cherry) and decided I HAD to try them.  It must have been fate, because they are delicious and I’ll definitely be making them again next year (if not sooner).   I wrapped a few up for a few of our neighbors and had them sitting out on Christmas Eve for everyone to nibble on – they were gone within one day, as you can imagine.

shortbread1

I adapted this recipe to suit my need for orange and cranberry, and I’m excited to try it with other flavors (lemon-poppy seed!).  Please try it – you’ll be so glad you did:

Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange peel
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until blended.  Beat in the orange peel and vanilla.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture.  Stir in Cranberries.
  2. Divide the dough in half; shape each into a 7-in-long roll.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).
  3. Unwrap and cut dough into 1/4-in slices.  Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until edges are slightly golden brown.

shortbread3

 

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flag muffins

My wicked smart, hilarious, sweet oldest child just turned 4, and to commemorate the occasion (aside from the family party and the big preschool party at Pump it Up), we brought a special snack into her preschool class where they all sang happy birthday and she got to pick out a birthday treasure from the treasure box.  These days, bringing in a preschool snack is no easy task since it has to be homemade to ensure there are absolutely no nuts whatsoever inside or within close range of said snack.  When I asked her what she wanted to bring, she surprisingly asked for my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, which we’d been making quite a bit lately what with pumpkin season and all.  That sounded good to me (no need to frost anything!!), so we set to work.  My latest trick with pretty much any muffin recipe to try to up the health quotient is to immediately halve the sugar content, and also use 1/2 whole wheat flour.  I was a bit nervous about this at first, but honestly, I don’t miss the sugar AT ALL – and I’ve been making these muffins for years, so you’d think I’d notice.  We’re also doing a rainbow theme for her bigger party this weekend, so I stuck to that and made some cute little birthday flags with label paper and toothpicks to make each one a bit special (since there wouldn’t be any frosting or sprinkles).  They turned out great, and I think the teachers were glad not to have to deal with any frosting-covered hands and faces 🙂  The recipe is below, and I’ve also included a link to download the little happy birthday flags if you’d like!  Just print them on full sheets of label paper, cut and stick to regular old toothpicks.  The ones I made had her name on one side and Happy Birthday on the other, but I’ve updated it to just read Happy Birthday on both sides.  So easy!

Here’s a picture of the birthday girl with the final product (we’re in the “must make a silly face for any and all pictures” right now – I’m just going with it and hoping it passes quickly).

birthday muffins

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (16 oz) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Beat sugar and oil to blend
  • Mix in eggs, pumpkin and vanilla
  • In a separate bowl, sift flours, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda, salt and baking powder, then stir into pumpkin mixture until just incorporated
  • If using, fold in mini-chocolate chips until evenly dispersed
  • Line muffin pan with paper cups and fill about 1/2 way – bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes

Click here to download the pdf for the rainbow flags!  Rainbow Flags

Rainbow Flags

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