Thursday, December 29, 2011

truffles, truffles, truffles?

Blogging goal for today -blog about Christmas.  Yea!  For the food blog that means I get to post all of the goodies we made to put on goodie plates this year.  They need blogging before I forget all of the tips I had.  Many of them came from came from the little 50 Edible Gifts insert in my Food Network magazine.  They came with the simplest of instructions - the entire recipe usually consisting of 2 lines.  Hint...  They needed more than that.  Here are the recipes with some helpful hints.  Going to start with the truffles.  The first 2 are actually truffles, the third is a ball because it is crunchy.  All 3 are good.  I'd give the chocolate truffles a 5, coconut almond 3.5-4, and hazelnut crunch 4.5 (only because they were a pain to make - helpful hints I've added ought to make them more like a 5 star next time.)
balls left to right are chocolate-hazelnut crunch,
coconut-almond truffle, and chocolate truffles.

Chocolate truffles
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 stick butter (4 Tablespoons)
  • 1 pound finely chopped chocolate.  (I used semisweet.  I think I used 8 oz of box and 8 oz of chocolate chips to tell the truth.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)
  • (original recipe called for these to be rolled in crushed peppermint candies, chopped nuts or cocoa powder - I used the cocoa powder/powdered sugar mix above, but any of these would be good.)
  1. Bring cream and butter to a boil in a saucepan.  Place chocolate in a boil and pour hot cream mixture over chocolate.  Stir until melted.  Add vanilla and stir until smooth.
  2. Refrigerated until firm.
  3. Mix powdered sugar and cocoa powder on a plate.  Scoop chilled truffle mixture with a spoon (or handy cookie dough scoop) and roll into balls.  Roll the balls in the cocoa/sugar mixture.  Chill.

Coconut-Almond truffles
  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (original called for unsweetened, and I think that nice fine shred would have worked better than the sweet stuff, but I used what I had in my pantry.  It worked, but I think the other would be better.)
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • additional coconut for rolling
  1. Mix all ingredients together until they form a dough.  Chill until firm.  (original recipe doesn't do this, and maybe if you have some stiffer almond butter than mine, you won't find it necessary, but I did.)
  2. When firm, roll into balls, then roll in shredded coconut.  Chill

Chocolate-Hazelnut Crunch Balls
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts.  (I just toasted mine in a pan on the stovetop.)
  • 1 cut crisp rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (Nutella)
  • powdered sugar for rolling
  1. These need the most help when it comes to directions - according to the book you just mix the stuff together and roll into balls, and roll in the sugar.  I've got news for you, they don't stick together like that.  Even once refrigerated they don't stick together well like that, so here is what I learned.
    1. Mix ingredients together.
    2. Refrigerate until a bit more firm (still won't be very firm)
    3. Make something that resembles a ball, but don't try too hard ....yet anyway.  
    4. Toss that ball-like blob in the plate of powdered sugar to give it a good dusting.  
    5. Then, when it isn't going to stick to you like crazy, shape it into a nice ball.
    6. Chill.
Following my directions, these actually became easy to make.  Although I have to tell you the first 2/3 of the batch drove me absolutely batty.  When super cool, they would sort of stick, but not really.  Tossing them in the powdered sugar before trying to form them all the way was totally the key.  I suppose I could have just added powdered sugar to the mix, but I was worried about them being too sweet. This way they were wonderful.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gingerbread Nativities

Although I haven't blogged in almost a month.  (Shame on me) I have done some fun kitchen activities.  I'm going to try to attempt to get the best ones on the blog before DH heads out of the country again next week, and life goes back to crazy with wrestling and basketball everyday after school.  :)  At least all of the Holiday baking and shopping is done.  Honestly I thought I'd get caught up a bit more quickly but I'm enjoying spending time with my kids too much.  Right now they are headed fishing though, so I'm taking advantage of the free time and playing catch up.
This wins as my first post because it was sooo cute.  I found it over at recipe shoebox.  I'm not going to write out all of the directions, but I will post my pictures and do mini directions.  Go check out recipe shoebox for step-by-step directions.  Loved these.  If I am less busy next year (ha, ha!) then I would love to try these with actual gingerbread.
This is the one I made with the 3 year old.  


  • Gingerbread or graham crackers (1 package was plenty for 4 scenes)
  • tootsie rolls
  • soft fun size candy bar like milky way or 3 musketeers (we used milky ways)
  • 2 packages large gumdrops (I only found small packages so I needed 2)
  • 1 package small gumdrops
  • fruit roll ups
  • icing (I used a store bought can that came with tips that screwed on - could not have been easier)
  • Black licorice (I used nibs and didn't have to cut them as much as she did.)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • yellow food coloring
  • large marshmallows
  • mini candy canes
  • Although not listed at recipe shoebox, she used a white jelly wreath for the angels.  I liked that but had not bought them because they weren't on the list, so here they are for next year
  • round toothpicks
  • kitchen scissors
  • cardboard pieces (1 for each stable to use as a base)
  • foil
The 12 year old's.  He got fancy and added a star, but then left
hay??  Looks like someone has some yellow hair though.  :)
  1. Cover the cardboard with foil.  (Optional, I just wanted them covered.)
  2. Mix coconut in a bowl with 5 drops food coloring.
  3. Using picture as a guide make stable with graham crackers (or gingerbread.)  Start with walls and roof, then add the back.  
  4. Make the manger by using 3 quarter pieces or graham cracker.  Frost 2 into a v, then stick them on the third piece as a base.  Add some yellow coconut to the bottom of the manger to look like hay.
  5. Make remaining figures by
    1. Donkey - Cut 2 tootsie rolls in half to make 4 legs.  Attach to the candy bar using toothpicks (you will have to cut the toothpicks smaller)  Add 2 more tootsie rolls as a neck and head, and yet another as a tail.  Again, attaching with toothpicks.
    2. Baby Jesus - stick 3 white gumdrops together using a toothpick (you will need to cut it)  Wrap in a small strip of fruit roll up and lay in the manger.
    3. Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and angel - stick 2 large gumdrops together with 1 matching small gumdrop as the head.  Use fruit roll up strips as hair or headdress for Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds.  Use a jelly roll cut in half for arms/wings of the angel - or candy canes if in a pinch.  :)
    4. Sheep -  Make 4 slits in the bottom of a marshmallow (with a knife or scissors.)  insert the licorice nibs in the slits as legs.  Make another slit in the front and add a licorice nib head.  
Here is the 5 year old busy at work.  He did have help from Dad.

Cheesy animal crackers

Blog, what blog.  Something made it up yesterday but only because I started adding pictures and for some reason I had only saved a draft of the recipe.  In all actuality, this recipe was typed in over a year ago when I checked this sneaky chef book out from the library.  Fast forward a year, and I checked it out again and actually made the recipe.
I've wanted to try making my own crackers and over the course of the year have seen a lot of different recipes.  I chose this recipe because it actually used real cheese, not powdered.  I worried about how that would work into a dough, but thought it would have better flavor than a powdered cheese.  I'm pretty sure I was right.  Of course I'm sure it also helped that I had some tasty Parmigiano Reggiano and not the cheaper Parmesan.
These were devoured in a very short time.  Not sure if they were worth the work for as quick as they were eaten.  However, they would be lots quicker using the method I wrote about at the end of the recipe.  I could double the batch and make them that way.
I flipped some upside down to show both sides.  You can see they
are made with actual cheese.  YUM!

  • 1/3 cup chickpea puree (exactly what it sounds like - puree a can of rinsed and drained chick peas using a Tablespoons or 2 of water if necessary. I like my immersion blender for this task.)
  • 1/2 cup grated  cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (not sure if I used this today)
  • 1/3 cup flour blend (equal parts white flour, wheat flour, and wheat germ in the book - use whatever blend you like.  I used the books blend this day, but wouldn't hesitate to make them again using a blend of any flours ie, wheat, spelt, barley, or brown rice, spelt, oat....)
  • small animal shaped cookie cutters - I got some of these, but the kids wanted to make them using some cute mini Christmas shapes I also bought
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with cooking oil.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine chickpea puree with cheeses, oil, salt, onion powder, and paprika.  Add flour blend and mix until well blended.  Remove from bowl and shape into a flattened ball using hands.  If dough is too crumbly add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until it holds together.
  3. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 min.
  4. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature and roll out onto a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin until about 1/16 inch thin.  Cut out fun shapes using cookie cutters.  Place on prepared cookie sheets and bake until golden brown on the edges, about 10-12 minutes, peeking occasionally to make sure they are not burning.  Transfer to a rack to cool.
As an easier option, just roll them directly on parchment, cut into 1 inch squares with a pizza cutter, poke a hole in the center with a tooth pick, transfer the parchment to the cookie sheet and bake.  WAY EASIER than the cookie cutter method.  However, the kids enjoyed playing with the cookie cutters.  We made it through about 1/2-2/3 of the batch cut with cookie cutters and finished the rest in just squares.  
Here are the squares.  You can tell I did them quickly and didn't pay
close attention to thickness.  The edges were a bit thinner and are a bit toasty.

Monday, December 26, 2011

chicken cannelloni

This is another recipe from double delicious.  Can you tell I only have it for 2 weeks and have to quickly try everything.  :)  I spiced this up by really adding to the tomato sauce, and even at that, I found it to be a bit lacking.  I think it just felt dry - maybe some added mozzarella in the center of the roll, or maybe more of the tomato sauce??  The meal was OK, just lacking something - maybe a bit of Italian seasoning in the chicken mixture??  Mostly I think it just felt dry.  However, I didn't at all mind the amount of cauliflower puree that was mixed with the ricotta.  Maybe it just needed a bit more ricotta??  Again, not too sure exactly what was lacking only that it was lacking something.
I did like how these rolled up.  It seems like I have tried a cannelloni or manicotti made with lasagna noodles before, but somehow it just seemed easier this time.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ham and pea pasta

I found this recipe over on deals to meals.  I actually don't think I changed the ingredients any.  Directions some, but that is it.  I really liked it.  It came together super quick and I was in need of a quick meal the evening that we had this.  As I'm typing this, I'm thinking I probably could have also tossed in some pureed cauliflower and not compromised anything.  An idea for next time.


  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese (I used the light)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese  (I've had some delicious Parmigiano Regianno the past week or 2 It has made some tasty recipes.  YUM!)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (I used jarred)
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb fettuccini noodles
  • 1 cup (or so) cubed ham (I just used 1 package of how ever much I had frozen)
  • 8 oz. frozen peas (or so - I just added a good amount.  :)
  1. Cook noodles according to package direcions.  
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, butter, seasonings and milk.  Stir until all ingredients are melted and well combined.  
  3. While that is warming, saute ham and frozen peas in a large saute pan until warmed through.  Add pasta and cream sauce to the saute pan and stir until combined.  Serve.  


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