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Coconut Jam Thumbprints

Coconut Jam Thumbprints

Happy Monday! After a busy Nutcracker-filled weekend, I am back at the Christmas baking! We recently made one of our annual favorites that I thought I’d share with you. It’s Ina Gartens Jam Thumbprint recipe.I had a helper in the kitchen with me, my daughter Allison was able to roll the dough into balls and help me coat them in coconut. It’s a kid-friendly recipe :)
It’s a delicious buttery shortbread cookie, rolled in coconut with a thumbprint of jam in the middle. We like to use apricot and raspberry, but please pick your own favorite!
Here is the link:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/jam-thumbprint-cookies-recipe/index.html

Tom and Jerry Christmas Cocktails

Tom and Jerry Christmas Cocktails

It’s December and I’m really looking forward to an annual tradition of the “Tom and Jerry” cocktail! It’s a delicious warm, creamy drink sprinkled with nutmeg. The adult version is usually served with rum, but it can easily be made for children (mine adore this treat) without any alcohol. To concoct, a batter is made and kept in the refrigerator and simply mixed with hot water. The batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. When I was growing up in Peoria, IL, this batter was a staple sold in many of the local grocery stores during the holidays. I remember my mom making and serving them. My kids and I love warm drinks and this one is sure to delight you! Cheers!
The following is a link to the recipe I have been following:

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Beverage/tomjerry.htm

Rocky Ledge Bars aka Barhorst Bars

Good evening and Happy Holidays everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and getting to do a little baking :) A favorite go-to and much requested cookie recipe for me are these Rocky Ledge Bars. Everyone loves them, they are easy and you can customize them for the occasion or holiday (for Christmas, I added mini red and green M&M’s for some color) So, let’s get to it!

With a Christmas twist :)

With a Christmas twist :)

Ingredients

1 stick room temperature butter

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp coarse salt

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or substitute in some colored mini-M&M‘s)

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup Kraft caramel bits

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper (it makes lifting out the whole pan easier for slicing)

2. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. With your electric stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until well combined. Mix in flour mixture. Fold in HALF of the marshmallows, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and caramel bits.

3. Spread batter in a  prepared pan. Scatter remaining marshmallows, chocolate chips (or M&M’s) butterscotch chips and caramel bits on top. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

4. Let cool on a rack for 3-4 hours. These really need time to set-up properly, so plan accordingly. When thoroughly cool and firm, lift entire block of bars out of the pan and cut into desired shapes, triangles are a nice option.

5. Be prepared for these to disappear fast! Enjoy :)

Recipe adapted from www.marthastewart.com

Overnight Oatmeal in the Crock Pot

Happy sunny Sunday afternoon! As promised, here is the recipe for a favorite at our house, Overnight Oatmeal. It’s perfect for cold, chilly mornings when you want a hearty wholesome breakfast as well as those times when you are entertaining and need a quick breakfast that everyone can “serve” to themselves :) I like to create a “buffet” of toppings for everyone to make their oatmeal they way they like to. Toppings such as raisins, toasted nuts, brown sugar, dried or fresh fruits and milk.

Overnight Oatmeal in the Crock Pot

Serves 4 (can be doubled)

Ingredients

1 cup steel-cut oats

4 cups water (can use apple juice or a combination depending on the flavor you want)

1/2 cup milk or cream

1/2-1 vanilla bean (actual bean is much more flavorful than the extract)

1-2 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp cinnamon (optional, we just like extra)

*Can add chopped, peeled apples to the crock pot for an Apple Cinnamon version of the recipe

Directions

Spray the inside of a crock pot  with non-stick cooking spray. Add all ingredients and stir. Cover and set crock pot on “low” setting. I usually do this about 9 or 10 p.m. for it to be ready about 6:30 a.m. In the morning, open lid and stir. Set up bowls of assorted toppings such as raisins, dried cranberries, brown sugar, fresh fruit, toasted nuts, really the possibilities are endless…Enjoy!

Sharing…Recipes for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good morning! I’ve been scouring cookbooks and cooking magazines and websites over the last couple weeks in anticipation of the “big” meal next week. Of course, we have our tried and true  favorite’s at the Barhorst household, but each year I like to throw in something new, something different to put a fresh spin on the meal. This year I’ve been looking how to cut some butter out of the meal, hopefully without compromising taste and so that no one notices! Another idea I have is to use my new favorite bread, The Sprouted Bakehouse’s Seven-Grain Bread, in my stuffing. Everyone seems to love my stuffing, and this bread which is so yummy (I use it everyday for toast) and so low in fat and high in protein I think it will work very nicely. It has lots of texture and will hold up well in stuffing. (I will post that recipe soon as well as my much requested “Crock Pot Oatmeal” which is a necessity for Thanksgiving morning. An easy meal that everyone can serve to themselves and add their toppings of choice and best yet, it’s already made when you wake up that morning :)

So, I’d love to hear what you’re making and what your specialities and tips are for this fast approaching Thanksgiving Holiday. Or, if you need any tips or inspiration, just ask me, I’d love to help! Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite meals to prepare. I love making everyone’s favorites dishes and hearing how they look forward to them each year. This past week I’ve been polling my kids as to what food is absolutely necessary for them. It’s fun to hear what they look forward to :)

Happy Monday and t-minus 9 days until turkey day! Let’s get cooking!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze

Greetings friends! I discovered a yummy pumpkin muffin this morning that is pretty healthy and a huge hit with the kiddos, especially because it had frosting! It goes right along with my love of everything pumpkin flavored and would be most wonderful with a Pumpkin-Spiced Latte.  Hope you enjoy this treat as much as we did!

This recipe makes only 12 muffins, but they are BIG muffins, the kind that overflow from the tin :)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 TBL baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 heaping tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg, plus 1 egg white

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 skim milk

1/4 cup fat-free half and half (or regular cream)

1 cup pumpkin puree

Glaze ingredients

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened

dash of cinnamon

dash of milk, if needed to thin for drizzling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tin, even the top since muffins will overflow, with non-stick cooking spray or add muffin liners.

Using mixer, cream butter and both sugars, add eggs, vanilla, milk, half and half and pumpkin puree. Combine dry ingredients, flours, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.

Divide batter among 12 muffin tins. They will be very full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Cool in pan about 20 minutes.  Move muffins to a rack to finish cooling.

Mix glaze ingredients and drizzle over muffins.

I calculated each muffin to be 7 PointsPlus.

Recipe adapted from RecipeGirl.com

 

Healthy Apple Crisp with Cranberries

Yesterday after school, Carter said “Mom, what did you make us today?!” Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good answer for him, but today I will! I needed to use up the remainder of the apples from our haul at the apple orchard this fall. We picked nearly 50 pounds and after only 2 batches of applesauce and 1 pie we had eaten the rest until today…Im trying a healthy version of Apple Crisp for my sweetie pies today, hope you enjoy :)

9-12 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced (the handy-dandy peeler slicer is amazing here)

2 TBL lemon juice

2 TBL white sugar

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 cups of  old-fashioned oats

2 TBL Smart Balance Canola oil spread (or whatever blend/spread you desire)

1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss apples, lemon juice and sugar together in a large bowl. Spread in a greased 9×13 pan.

In another bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, canola spread, and cinnamon together with a pastry blender or fork. Sprinkle over the apple mixture.

Bake until crisp is bubbly and golden brown, 50-55 minutes.

Serves 12 and is 4 PointsPlus per serving.

Salted Caramel Blondies

 

IMG_6913Preheat oven to 375 degrees

List of ingredients

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp coarse sea salt

2 sticks of room-temperature butter

3/4 cup of white sugar

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup of Kraft Caramel Bits (tiny preformed balls of caramel found in baking section)

2 cups of slightly broken pretzel twists

Salted Caramel or Butterscotch melting wafers to drizzle on top after cutting

Instructions

Cream butter, sugars and vanilla together. (I use my Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer for almost all of my baking) Add eggs. Slowly add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in chocolate chips and caramel bits.

Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper and lightly spray. Spread dough in pan and gently press pretzel pieces on top. The beauty of the parchment paper step is that you will be able to lift the entire slab of cookies out of the pan for easier slicing.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until middle is set and top is slightly browned. Allow to cool for a few hours.  Once cool, I sliced the bars and put on a cooling rack and drizzled with Salted Caramel Wafers. These bar cookies are actually better one they have cooled, if you can wait that long!

Enjoy!

IMG_4728

20 Pounds Gone!

Last Friday I achieved my goal! 20 pounds gone since March 1st!!!!!!! It was weigh in day…and yes, I have been a closet Weight Watchers member. The only person that really knew I was on this journey was my dear husband. It wasnt necessarily a secret, I just felt I would be more successful if I just did it and not talked about it. I was very skeptical when joining this program. After all, I have young kids in the house, I really do not like to focus on my weight or a number on the scale. I really think “diet” is a four-letter bad word. Mostly, I love to eat, and thought how could this possibly work?  But, I had decided it was time to drop some pounds, something I had wanted to do for a long time.  Having 4 babies in 7 years was a bit tough on the body.  I had also suffered from plantar fasciitis in both of my feet for almost a year.  I went through months of physical therapy, icing, electronic stimulations, massage, and with the help my wonderful physical therapist, I am now pain-free. Those months with limited exercise certainly didn’t help my situation and for some reason last March, I decided it was time. I actually lost the first 10 pounds by myself , by literally working my tail off and tracking my intake religiously. I upped the ante on the workouts, became best friends with the elliptical, walked miles and miles and regularly did weight lifting. I used an app on my iPhone to track calories. This tracking became very eye-opening. I thought I knew what I was eating, but until I actually recorded EVERYTHING, I really had no idea.

Summer arrived and I felt I hit a plateau, I joined Weight Watchers to help me finish off my goal. The plan basically gives you a set amount of “PointsPlus” to consume based on your weight and height. What I like best about the program is the ETools program you can use online and on the smart phone. I mainly use it on my phone, but it’s basically a  tracking program. I also like the plan because it’s not a restrictive “diet” or something where I had to purchase or only eat certain foods. I’m a foodie after all, I wouldn’t like being told I couldn’t eat something. I still eat everything I want to, just in limited quantities. It’s really just held me accountable. This summer Weight Watchers came out with an activity monitor called ActiveLink. It monitors all of your activity in a day and gives you a goal for each day.  You can actually see how much your moving and I could get a better idea of the physical activity I was getting. Being the digital girl I’ve become, I surprisingly loved all  this tracking and monitoring!

I’ve met my Weight Watchers goal and have maintained it for 6 weeks. Yahoo!  I’m pretty proud of my accomplishment!  That makes me a “lifetime” member at Weight Watchers, which means, the program is now free  for me, even the Etools! I think that’s pretty awesome too. I am not an official “spokeswoman” for Weight Watchers, but I’m here to say it works and it’s a pretty great program. My journey has really just confirmed things that most of us know already, I just needed some reminding. Moderation and movement, it’s really just a lifestyle, about making healthy choices.  I will feature recipes on my blog from time to time that I have made PointsPlus calculations on and I will continue to look for tasty and healthy recipes to share with you and your family.

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

I love October and all things pumpkin, so this week when I was “snack mom” for my daughters theatrical team, I made this dip. It’s super easy, has a cute presentation and it went over really well with the kids.

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

2 8 ounce tubs of whipped cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups of powdered sugar

1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin

1 TBL cinnamon

1 TBL pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp of apple cider

Directions

1. Blend cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth with no lumps, I used my Kitchenaid stand-mixer.

2. Gradually mix in the pumpkin, spices and cider until smooth.

3. refrigerate for a few hours until firmed up a bit.

4. Serve in a hollowed out “pie pumpkin” (those cute small ones you see in the grocery store) I lined mine with a plastic wrap before putting the dip in. Keep the pumpkin lid to put on the side for presentation. Serve with gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, graham crackers or sliced apples. Leftovers cold be used on bagels or a teaspoon in your coffee. Enjoy!

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pumpkin-dip/

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