January 2015 archive

Chocolate Fruit Dip

chocolate-fruit-dipwebWelcome to my new site!! I’m so excited for you to check everything out.  Please take a look around and if you find something that you love, I’d love to hear about it; or if there is something that you don’t love, just leave a comment and I’ll make sure and take care of it.

To celebrate my new look, I’m sharing one of my own favorite recipes, Chocolate Fruit Dip.  I love this Chocolate Fruit Dip because it is so versatile, semi-healthy, and it is so very good. Like, lick the bowl and use a spatula to get every last bite good.   The chocolate has a strong, deep flavor blends perfectly with all kinds of fruit.  I’ve made this to go with our family’s dinner, a baby shower, a football party, and Thanksgiving dinner; the possibilities are endless.  I made it most recently for my friend’s surprise birthday party.  For this event I made fruit kabobs with strawberries and bananas. If you choose to make cute little kabobs like this, and don’t want to mess with shortening traditional kabob skewers, use candy apple sticks that you can find in the candy making section on your local department store or craft store.  They are the perfect size and work great!

AnneOpinion

  • This dip comes together in a snap with only 3 ingredients: yogurt, cocoa powder, and maple syrup.
  • It’s thick like a pudding.  Our favorite things to dip in it is fresh pineapple, strawberries and bananas.  We’ve also enjoyed graham crackers and vanilla wafers.
  • I like using Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Yogurt, but any vanilla or plain yogurt will work.  I’ve also made it with plain Greek yogurt.  The Greek yogurt makes it very thick.
  • The recipe calls for pure maple syrup, but I’ll be honest, I’ve used the fake stuff plenty of times.  Taste wise, it makes no difference.
  • If you are using a fruit that will start to brown, dip the pieces into lemon juice before placing them on your serving plate.  This will help keep them looking pretty for longer.

post-closer

Chocolate Fruit Dip
Print Recipe
This chocolate dip is perfect for dinner with the family, or the next party that you host.
Prep Time
5 minutes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Chocolate Fruit Dip
Print Recipe
This chocolate dip is perfect for dinner with the family, or the next party that you host.
Prep Time
5 minutes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Places all ingredients in a bowl and stir until fully combined. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until needed. Serve with fresh fruit.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Two Healthy Snacks

I have to new health snacks I’ve tried that I wanted to share with you.  I, along with so many others, am trying to be healthy and lose weight.  I can’t tell you how many years I’ve done this in January; most of my life really.  I’ve struggled with my weight since I was 7 and I’m afraid that it’s going to be a lifelong battle.  Even once I manage to get the weight off (which I have done before), it’s a constant battle to keep it off.  Especially for someone like me, who has such a love for making really good food.

Just because food is healthy, don’t mean that you have to accept smuggiesmediocre flavor.  That’s the guideline that I follow as I eat better.  If it’s something that I wouldn’t like when I’m not on a “diet,” than I’m not going to each it now.

I have been on the hunt for some new snacks to try making because (you’ve probably noticed this if you’ve ever gone on a diet too) healthy snacks are much more expensive to buy than junk food.  I checked (with myself) and it’s a scientific fact.  Homemade snacks are much cheaper, and you have ability to control what goes into them.  Two good reasons to find some good ones that you like.

The first snack is called “Peanut Butter Banana Smugies” found on popsugar.com.  Jenny sells the smugies as a sugar free, dairy free, ice cream sandwich.  As a chronic dieter, who has tried her fair share of “this tastes just like a _____” I was very skeptical.powerballsweb

The second snack was also found on popsugar.com.  These were called “Peanut Butter and Honey Balls.”  They sounded simple enough to make and I already had everything to make them so I decided to give them a go.  Here’s what I thought of each of them.

AnneOpinion

I am really glad that I tried the Peanut Butter Smugies.  While I might not call them an “ice cream sandwich,” they were tasty and provided a nice cool snack when I was craving one.

I wanted to see if I could bring down the calories, without sacrificing taste so I tried them with PB2, a powdered peanut butter.  I love PB2.  I use it all of the time in my protein drinks to make a chocolate peanut butter milkshake.  PB2 is not something that I would recommend mixing with water and eating straight like it’s real peanut butter, but when mixed with other things, it’s hard to tell that it’s not the real thing, and it only has 45 calories in 2 Tablespoons!  I couldn’t tell a difference, at all, between the real Peanut Butter and the PB2.

This is super easy to make too.  I’ve been thinking that it would be a fun one for my 6 or 8 year old to try.  You just mush up bananas, mix in the peanut butter, spoon on to the graham crackers, and put the tops on.  Once frozen, they’ll make a great after school treat.

The Peanut Butter and Honey Balls are my new obsession.  They are the treat that I look forward to every day, and sometime I save calories, just so that I can have another one.

The peanut butter and honey mixed together make a very “naughty” tasting treat.  I used dried Cran-Blueberries in them, and that is one of my favorite parts.  It works really well with the other flavors.  I also used unsweetened coconut flakes on the outside to roll the balls in, and while they don’t have much flavor, they do provide a nice “shell.”

The mixture is very, very sticky.   To make it so I didn’t get really frustrated separating the mixture into balls, I used my large cookie scooper to shape them and dropped them directly into the coconut.  I think that if I had not done this, they would have been a pain in the neck to make.

I made mine larger than the ones on popsugar.  I got 9 balls out of the recipe; each having 178 calories with the blueberries and coconut.

To find the recipe for each of these, just click on the links above or on this one for the Smugies and this one for the Peanut Butter and Honey Balls.  I used a 1:1 conversion for the PB2.

post-closer

 

Life Hack That Actually Works

price-tagI’m pretty excited right now.  I’m working (mostly my computer guru husband is working) on getting my site reformatted and more user friendly.  Hopefully it will be going up in the next week.  If you have any suggestions for things that you would like to see, or that would make it better, please leave a comment and let me know.  Any and all feedback is appreciated!
Now for the promised life hack.  There are many things that when I buy them, or think of buying them, I get a pit in my stomach.  That pit comes from the sticker or price tag attached to said item, and knowing the it may be super easy to get off, or a nightmare.  I’ve had a few plates that I bought at a local thrift store to use in food photos, but I’ve put off using them, because they had the dreaded price tag on them.  I found this life hack on realsimple.com along with lots of other ones that I’m excited to try.  The cleaning the soap scum off of a glass shower door with a fabric softener sheet and the using a coffee filter to wipe down dusty and staticky computer monitors and TV screens.
I haven’t tried those yet, so I can’t vouch for them, but I did try the remove stubborn stickers one, and it was a homerun.

AnneOpinion

My favorite thing is when a few method calls for something that I already have.  This called for white vinegar, which I had plenty of on hand.
I took the sticker off as much as I could, without working at it.  I really diprice-tag-removeddn’t want to have to put any effort into removing it.  I poured a little bit of vinegar over the sticker, set the timer for 5 minutes, and went and did other things.  When the timer went off, I wiped it off and it took NO effort on my part.  It came right off!!  I’ve used this method twice since then with the same results.  It’s genius!  File this away for the next time you need to get a sticky sticker off.  You’ll be grateful you did.
post-closer

Cannoli Cheeseball

cannoli-cheeseballI love football.  I didn’t watch very much of it growing up because my dad didn’t watch games, unless it was his college team, and back in the days when you only had network tv stations, those games did not come along very often.  Fast forward to my middle school and high school days spent in Texas.  Texas is football country and I love everything about it.  I love the fierceness of the rivalries, and the love that a town has for their high school team.  In Texas, the high school stadiums are like college stadiums everywhere else, or nicer. (see Allen, TX stadium)  I was in the band in high school (and just so you know, being in the band is cool in Texas) so I went to every single game.  I even got to play at Texas Stadium!  Dream come true for this Dallas Cowboys fan.  Watching all of those middle school and high school games helped give me a pretty good knowledge of the game and an undying love.
So, what does that have to do with a Cannoli Cheeseball?  Now, it’s not just the games that I enjoy, but the chance to try new game food.  New appetizer recipes, fun dips, wings, and snack mixes.  I always like to add one or two sweet things in there too. This Cannoli Cheeseball from tasteandtellblog is a perfect addition to any game day spread.

AnneOpinion

This was a definite hit.  Everyone loved it!
The favorites for dipping were the chocolate grahams and the vanilla wafers.  I also thought that regular graham crackers were pretty good with it.
I used mini chocolate chips and I thought that there were too many of them. (did I really just say that)  I have reduced the amount for my recipe.  If you use regular sized chips, I would use the full 1 cup in the mixture.
My friend Misty, that recommended this recipe to me, said that she added a couple of tablespoons more of the powdered sugar because it didn’t seem sweet enough.  I took it a step further and used 3/4 cup because I wanted to have the ease of just using one measuring cup for the powdered sugar.
This cheeseball never sets up hard, like most cheeseballs.  It can be a little bit of a mess to work with, but once you get the chocolate chips on the outside, it isn’t so bad.  Check out the pictures that Deborah, of tasteandtellblog, put on her post showing how to shape the cheeseball.  Very helpful!
To find the cannoli pieces, I went to my local grocery store that I had observed sold cannoli in their bakery section.  I was able to purchase empty shells from the bakery.

Cannoli Cheeseball                                                         Printable Recipe

AnneOpinion  adapted from tasteandtellblog.com
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 C ricotta cheese
3/4 C powdered sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 C mini chocolate chips, divided
Vanilla wafers, chocolate graham crackers, cannoli shell pieces
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the ricotta, powdered sugar and cinnamon and beat until combined. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips. Dump the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Gather the plastic wrap around the top, squishing the mixture into a ball shape. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Place the remaining ¾ cup of chocolate chips on a plate or in a shallow dish. Open the plastic wrap and turn the cheeseball filling onto the chocolate chips. Use your hands to roll the ball to coat in the chocolate chips.  Serve with Vanilla wafers, chocolate graham crackers,  and cannoli shell pieces.

post-closer

DIY Burlap Garland

Looking for something simple to spruce up your house?  You should really consider making a burlap garland like I found on lifeinhighcotton.

AnneOpinion

I liked this garland because it can be easily transformed for each holiday.
This was super easy to make and you really can’t do it wrong.  Just follow the instructions on lifeinhighcotton.
I used a brown string.  I would recommend it because I think a white string would be seen.
I used a 30 foot of burlap and 5 foot of string.
It’s perfect for a mantel, make a longer one for a doorframe, or decorate with it at a wedding.  The brown burlap leaves so many possibilities!

post-closer

Ham & Cheese Pasta

Does anyone else always wonder what they are going to do with all that left over ham?  I’m always amazed at how few recipes I can find of things to do with leftover ham.  Part of my problem is that I have a husband who thinks that soup is something that should only be made for dinner once or twice a year, and after that, we’ve had it too often.  If you don’t have that problem, then you probably don’t wonder what to do with all that leftover ham because most leftover ham recipes are for “Ham & Potato Soup,” “Ham & Cheese Soup,” “Split Pea Soup with Ham.”  Do you see the pattern?
So after Christmas, I came across a smokin’ deal on spiral cut hams.  This, of course, meant that I had to buy a few and now I am trying to figure out ways to use it without making soup.  I’ve already used one of my soup days, (Cheddar Ham Chowder) and I don’t want to be like Pam on “The Office” and use all of my days up too quickly.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Pam says in the episode The Carpet, “I get ten vacation days a year, and I try to hold off from taking them as long as possible, and this year I held off until the third week of January.”
Now, back to Ham and Cheese Pasta.  If you’re looking for a yummy way to use up ham, here is the low down on this Ham and Cheese Skillet that I found on Goodeness gracious.com.

AnneOpinion

I have a child (Boy 1) who does not like homemade Mac-n-Cheese, so when this recipe called for macaroni, I immediately knew that I would change the pasta type, because cheese sauce with pasta is completely different than Macaroni and Cheese. 😉
I doubled the recipe, but unless your home has a small army in it, like mine, the original recipe would make an adequate amount.
I was unsure about using as much milk as it called for, especially since I was doubling it (7 cups of milk!?!)  I did notice that it was a gooseberry patch recipe, so I decided to trust it and it turned out fine.
It was very soupy when I served it for dinner, and I had to do a lot of talking about how it wasn’t a “soup,” there just was a lot of cheese sauce.  After it cooled and I put away the leftovers, it wasn’t “soup like” at all and had thicken to the consistency of Mac-n-Cheese.
I used Cheddar Cheese. It tasted great. Any good melty cheese will work.  I think that Gruyere would be fabulous!  Let me know if you try it. :0)

Ham and Cheese Pasta                                                   Printable Recipe

AnneOpinion- adapted from goodnessgracious.com
1/4 Cup Onion- Chopped
1/3 Cup Bell Pepper- Chopped
1/4 Cup Butter Melted
1 Tbsp Flour
1 tsp Salt
3 1/2 Cup Milk
2 Cups Cooked Ham- Cubed
8 oz Pasta- Uncooked ( I used Radiatori)
1 Cup Sour Cream (or 1/2 Cup Sour Cream and 1/2 Non-fat Plain Greek Yogurt)
1 Cup Shredded Cheese (I used cheddar, Gruyere would be amazing!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook your onion and peppers in the butter until tender.  Stir in salt and flour.  Add in milk and whisk to incorporate the rue. Add ham and macaroni. Stir constantly while bringing to a boil.  Cook until pasta is tender.  Take off heat and stir in sour cream and cheese until cheese is melted.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  This will be soupy at first,  It will thicken up as it cools.

post-closer

Who knew Cleaning a Toaster could be so Easy?

Cleaning, I have become convinced, is the bane of my existence.  I clean something, someone comes in, and almost immediately, messes up what I have cleaned and I have to clean it again.  Sweeping, mopping, cleaning a sink, you name it; it is a never ending cycle.
I have found that there are things that I get great satisfaction from when I clean them.  The cubby where the dryer hose attaches that I had not ever thought of cleaning until last year, the air vents on the ceiling that I only think of cleaning every couple of years, and the toaster, which I regularly clean the crumbs out of, but tends to build up a sticky brown residue over time.  I enjoy things like this because when I’m done, I see a big transformation and it generally takes some time of my work to be undone.
I do like doing jobs like this in the easiest and quickest way possible, so when I saw a suggestion to clean my toaster with just water, a sponge, and some cream of tarter on a real-life housewife, I had to try it.

AnneOpinion

This worked great.  It was easy, fast and it didn’t require me to buy anything.
I mixed 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar and a few drops of water in a bowl, dipped the sponge in and went to work.
The solution worked great and quickly took off all of the brown residue, with very little elbow grease needed..
There was also a suggestion on the site to use “The Bar Keeper’s Friend” so I tried it on one side of the top.  It worked the same, I felt like.  I didn’t like using it though because when you are cleaning, part of the solution tends to drip down into the bread slots and even though I rinsed everything off with water, I still like using a “no chemical” cleaner for this job.
I would definitely recommend using cream of tarter for getting the brown grime off.  Who knew the solution was that easy?

*Always unplug your toaster before cleaning,  Never submerge it in water and wait 12 hrs after rinsing before plugging it in and using it again.

post-closer

2 Mini Hazelnut Trifles

Every Christmas I host a Favorite Things party for all of my friends.  It’s a fun time of gift exchanging and good food and enjoying friends company at the holidays.  I always like to find something fun to make for the party.  One year I made Hi Hat Cupcakes from Bakerella.   They turned out super cute and the one suggestion I have for them is to make them in mini cupcake size.  Full size is a bit much.
This year I found these Mini Gingerbread Hazelnut Crunch Trifles on Pizzazzerie.  Everything is better in miniature!  Don’t you agree?  I think that I most wanted to make these because I wanted an excuse to use some of the miniature spoons.  Too cute!!  I ended up making 25 of the Gingerbread hazelnut and 25 Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Trifles, that were my own recipe. They both were gobbled up and I think that they would be a great addition to any party.  They would be especially cute at a Tea Party.  Someone will have to tell me about their experience with this though because I think with all of the male energy being generated around here, I’m not going to be getting any pinkies up anytime soon.

AnneOpinion

I didn’t have time to make my own gingerbread, so I really can’t say how her recipe is.
The buttercream made just enough for 25.  The hazelnut crunch was enough for 50.  If you’re just making one recipe worth, half the hazelnut crunch.
The ginger buttercream had WAY to much spices.  I didn’t get a chance to ever retry it, so I would advise adding a quarter of the spices to it and work your way up from there.  I was mad at myself for not listening to my gut and adding all of them.
I liked the Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse one better.  The mousse was lighter and honestly, chocolate always wins for me.
The hazelnut crunch was good and added a nice texture layer to the trifle.
I think that the gingerbread trifle would be great, with less spices in the buttercream. (and the little gingerbread men are adorable on top)

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Trifles                         Printable Recipe

recipe by AnneOpinion
1 chocolate cake
1 C Nutella
2 C whipping cream
1 t unflavored gelatin
1 T cold water
 2 T boiling water
Pirouline rolled wafers
In a small bowl, combine gelatin and cold water.  Let stand for 1 minute.  While it is standing, heat  water to boiling in the microwave.  Whisk boiling water into gelatin mixture and allow to cool.
Microwave Nutella for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until smooth.  In a mixer bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Mix in gelatin mixture until combined.  Add 3 tablespoons of the whipped cream to the nutella bowl and whisk by hand until smooth. Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream gradually, until combined and smooth. (Don’t fear, it will look like it will never get smooth at first, but keep going, it will!)
Scoop mousse into piping bag fitted with a large opening tip.
Cut cake into squares.  Place a piece of cake in the bottom of a shooter cup. Pipe in mousse, and repeat layers.  Garnish top with Pirouline and mini spoon.

post-closer

Scotcharoos Chex Mix

Hello again!  I hadn’t planned on taking a break, but the holidays seemed to have made things get away from me, so here we are, Jan. 5 and I’ll getting back on track.  Hope you can forgive me. 😉
Over the break I found and tried a recipe for Chex Scotcharoos on completerecipes.com.  I had to try it because I’ve had a great affinity for butterscotch for many, many years.

When I was in elementary school, I remember saving my allowance to buy Callard & Bowser butterscotch candies.  If you’ve never seen them, they came in a white cigarette style box, and were individually wrapped in silver paper.  This was the beginning of my love for high quality goods.  Unfortunately they don’t make them anymore.  The British company was bought by a bigger one, and the only thing left that they make is Altoids.  Good, but no butterscotch.
So, back to the Scotcharoos.  I had to try them.  Anything that has butterscotch chips makes my list.:)

AnneOpinion

The original recipe was for bars or free form cookies.  I prefer these as more of a snack mix type of a food.
I reduced the amount of peanut butter.  It was too much for me in the original recipe.
I also doubled the amount of cereal, otherwise it would have been too sweet.
I also halved the amount of chocolate and butterscotch and left out the peanut butter in the topping.  There is still plenty of it, but more would make it cloyingly sweet.  You can make it with only chocolate and no butterscotch, but the chocolate melts easier and is more messy.
You can use Rice or Corn Chex for this.  I preferred the rice because it has a milder flavor.
We loved it here!  Hope you enjoy it too.

Scotcharoos Chex Mix                                    Printable Recipe

AnneOpinion adapted from Complete Recipes
12 oz box of Chex ( around 12 C)
1 C light corn syrup
1 C sugar
1 C Peanut Butter
1 C Chocolate Chips
1 C Butterscotch Chips
Lay out wax paper or silicon mats on baking sheets to pour Chex mix onto.  Pour box of cereal into a large bowl.  In a medium saucepan, combine the corn syrup and sugar over medium heat. Stir and bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Immediately remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour over cereal and carefully fold together. Pour cereal into wax paper and spread out in a single layer.  Using a microwave safe dish or a double boiler, melt together chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.  If using a microwave, do this slowly, at 50% power, start with one minute, stir, and then in 30 second intervals, stirring between, until completely smooth.  Drizzle over Chex mix.  Place in a refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Take it out, break it into pieces of desired size, and try not to eat it all at once.  😉
 

post-closer