Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hot potato.....

I made these twice-baked potatoes for dinner awhile back and forgot to share the recipe! They were very good....the perfect meal for a winter evening. Add a tossed salad and you are ready for business.... :-)

I added mushrooms (finely chopped) and I always use Oscar Mayer real bacon bits (because I am lazy and hate the smell of greasy bacon in my house). They taste great!  You could also substitute feta cheese for the bleu cheese, if your family are not fans. ;-)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Re-inventing the

My kids take snacks to school everyday and the 2 boys at home need lots of snacks to keep their energy levels up. ;-) But snack foods KILL my food budget! Not to mention that most of them are filled with preservatives and sugar and....(fill in the bad stuff of choice).

So, in keeping with my perspective for 2012--always try to make things homemade if possible--I decided to start researching snack items that I can make myself. In addition to including nuts and raw veggies/dip in our snack regime, I found several recipes for healthy (or healthier) bars and cookies.

The first one I tried was homemade fig newtons. Our whole family LOVES fig newtons, but I DO NOT love the price! Plus, they are way too sugar-y and filled with preservative junk. I researched online and found a relatively easy recipe for them.

With a little healthy tweaking and some experimentation in the kitchen, I think I have perfected an easy little snack for my kids.

Homemade Fruit "Newtons"

1 cup finely chopped dried Black Mission figs
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 t. grated orange zest

*Note: I did not make this filling....I just used some organic strawberry preserves that I had on hand. When I DO make it, I will cut down (or out) the sugar.*

Cookie Dough:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar (I used less)
1/2 t. grated orange zest
1 large egg white
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 T. ground flax (I added this for extra texture/fiber)

1. Make the filling. Combine the figs, water, apple juice and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a bare simmer for 1-2 hours, until the figs are soft and spreadable.

2. Transfer to a food processor or blender, add the orange zest and process until smooth. Remove from the food processor and allow to cool.

3. Make the dough....Cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. (I just used a hand mixer, since I still live in the Dark Ages...) Scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add the egg white and vanilla and beat in. Scrape down the bowl and paddle again. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Make sure rack is in the middle of the oven.

5. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12x16 rectangle. Cut into 4 equal strips, each 12x4 inches. Spoon a line of filling down left side of each strip--fold dough over and pinch edges together. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheets.

6. Using a serrated knife, slice each log on the diagonal into 10 cookies. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack.

*These are obviously not going to be EXACTLY like the real thing, but they DO make a yummy, easy snack.*