Easy Colorful Desserts ~ Low-Fat treats, perfect for the 4th of July

Glorious 4th of July Shortcake~ store bought shortcake filled with blue jello, fresh raspberries, fat-free Cool Whip & drizzled with fat-free French vanilla creamer. (& maybe a bit of coconut rum, for the adults :)

The Fourth of July is almost here & man, is it hot!!  I'm not turning on the stove much at all, so making any dessert that requires baking is pretty much out of the question.  Instead, I've been buying ingredients that I can just assemble into quick & easy desserts.  So, here are some desserts that I've been making that would be perfect for celebrating the Fourth of July.  They star the patriotic colors of the day ~ without having to heat up the kitchen.  Here's to eating food using the tried & true colors of ~ red, white & blue ~ and to staying cool while making them!  Enjoy! 

Trio of Desserts ~ (L) Fresh Blueberries, Raspberries & Strawberries ~ spiked with coconut rum & French Vanilla Creamer.     (C) Patriotic Jello Parfait ~ blue jello, raspberries & Cool Whip.     (R) Yogurt & Fresh Fruit Breakfast Parfait ~ honey sweetened Greek yogurt, layered with fruit & granola.
Chocolate Raspberry Tart ~ chocolate tart shell filled with chocolate pudding & topped with Fat-Free Cool Whip & fresh raspberries.

Hunters Chicken ~ Chicken Chasseur

Hunters Chicken ~ In France, this dish goes by the name of ~ Chicken Chasseur.  I made the sauce really quickly using Bisto Chicken Gravy for the base, 1/2 can of chopped fire roasted stewed tomatoes, a small can of sliced mushrooms, a little diced onion, a few herbs & a splash of sherry. (or you could use your favorite cooking alcohol)

If you don't have Bisto Gravy to make the sauce with, you could just combine a jar of brown gravy & a jar of chicken gravy ~ then add the other ingredients & simmer all together until warmed through.  Add your already cooked chicken & let it all simmer together for a few minutes, then dish it up & eat.  This is a great meal to make if you have leftover chicken (pieces or slices) hanging around the fridge.  It's also nice enough to serve for dinner when you have company over, but no need to wait for a special occasion.  You could easily use fresh ingredients, instead of canned, but the sauce will need to be simmered longer before you add the cooked chicken.  This French inspired recipe is a versatile, quick & easy meal that is cheap & cheerful, too.

If you want a more traditional version, that is still pretty quick, try the recipe over at the site ~ Easy French Food.

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies with Carob / Chocolate Chips

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies ~ These cookies have the great flavor of peanut butter, are power packed because of adding protein powder and are egg & flour free and are sweetened with bananas & applesauce.  If you want to indulge, add some chocolate or carob chips & take the flavor up to the next level!

They go perfect with a cup of coffee...
Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies with Carob / Chocolate Chips (optional) ~ I've come up with another recipe/spin on my original Breakfast Cookie.   This newly created recipe turned out so good & we ate it so quick ~ it barely lasted two days around here.   This time my recipe includes peanut butter, vanilla protein powder, chopped nuts ~ and a carob / chocolate chip option that is really wonderful.  Hands up if you love the flavor combo of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups ~ pb & c, ROCKS!   Nutella, spread on top of these cookies, is another winner in my book & the boys agree.  Roy told me these cookies really helped to keep the hunger pains away when he had them for a late afternoon snack.  The extra protein from the peanut butter & the vanilla protein powder give them that little extra bit of oomph, to give them even more staying power than the original Breakfast Cookies.  Very cool!

The cookie is soft, thick & chewy (it reminds me of 'Grandma's Cookies' brand) ~ with the great taste of peanut butter & the extra goodness from the vanilla protein powder.  I think the taste & the texture is even better the second day, the flavors seem to develop more as the cookie sits.  If you're a fan of peanut butter cookies, give this new Breakfast Cookie a try

I'm really digging eating these different Breakfast Cookies in the mornings...  How about you?   :)

** Updated 7/15/2012 ~ If you are having a hard time finding vanilla protein powder or butter extract, you can make the cookies without them, no need to replace them with anything else.  The texture/flavor will just be a little bit different.

If you don't like or don't/can't eat peanut butter,  you might try using your favorite nut butter instead.   ((or even soy butter for those who want the flavor / taste of peanut butter without actually using a nut butter))  Just change the name of the cookies to match the name of the new nut butter ((or soy butter)) used.  

I worked up the nutritional info for the cookies, over on Calorie Count.com, based on 16 cookies in a batch, like I normally make.  The info is without the optional carob / chocolate chips or butter extract, but I did include the protein powder.  Check out the nutritional info using the link here.

 Cheers!  :)

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies ~ with optional carob or chocolate chips
makes 16 regular sized cookies or 12 large sized

To print a copy of the recipe ~ CLICK HERE ~

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed until smooth & creamy
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter ~ creamy or chunky 
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder ** (can be made without, cookie will just be lower in protein)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp butter flavor extract ** (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oatmeal  ~ uncooked  (or use old fashioned oats for more oatmeal texture)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (peanut, walnut, or your favorite)
  • 1/4 cup carob or chocolate chips (**optional)

Preheat heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix mashed banana & peanut butter until completely combined then add in the applesauce, vanilla protein powder & the extract(s) ~ mix again until all are completely combined.

Add in the oatmeal & nuts to the banana mixture & combine.  (** add the optional carob / chocolate chips at this time if you want them mixed throughout)

Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Drop cookie dough, by spoonfuls, onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet & flatten cookies into circles. (** if you just want the carob / chocolate chips on the top of the cookies, add now)

Bake cookies approx. 20-30 minutes (some like their cookies less cooked, some cooked more - try it both ways to find which works best for your tastes) or until golden brown & done.  Remove from oven & let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to cooling rack.  (if you want the traditional fork tong marks on the cookies, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to score the tops of the cookies while they're still warm)
When cookies are completely cool, store in a covered container.  Enjoy!

...or with a cuppa tea.


Mike's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce ~ an old family recipe, seeing the light of day once again...

Mike's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce ~ Here is an old  Arnold Family Recipe, from my big brother, Mike.  Below is the scanned version of his original typed copy ((that I just found in one of Grandma Bunni's old cookbooks)) from way, way, back when.  ((I'm guessing at least 25+ years ago?))   How the time flies for us diners...but for the recipes, their time remains constant.  They are the same now as they were on the day they were created.  It's so nice that the taste memories of being invited over to his house, for a big spaghetti dinner, full of the rich, meaty Italian flavors of Mike's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce are still the same today, as they were the very first time I ate it.

Time marches on for all of us ~ but the tastes & flavors of family recipes can & do live on forever.  To me, that is their own special magic ~ to be rediscovered & enjoyed by the next generation & then the next...  That's one of the things I enjoy most about cooking ~ keeping, rediscovering, sharing & making new food memories.    Buon Appetito!

Mike's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce                       
~ Serve over your favorite cooked pasta ~

Guiltless Patriotic Fat Free Brownie Supreme with fresh Raspberries & Blueberries ~ A Simple Fourth of July Dessert Idea

Guiltless Patriotic Fat Free Brownie Supreme with fresh Raspberries & Blueberries ~ This is such an indulgent tasting dessert that is actually a snap to make & exceptionally low in fat, make that FAT FREE ~ thanks to Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Fat Free Brownie Mix & Fat Free Cool Whip.

The Fourth of July is just around the corner & I'm playing around with different dessert ideas to celebrate this most patriotic of holidays.  I know Memorial Day is the traditional 'unofficial/official' kick-off for summer, but to me, July 4th is when summer really kicks it into high gear.  The sun is brighter, the days are longer, the nights are hotter & the parties are non-stop,

Here is one of the dessert ideas that I've come up with so far ~ Guiltless Patriotic Fat Free Brownie Supreme with fresh Raspberries & Blueberries.   It's a sinfully good Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Fat Free Chocolate Brownie, hiding beneath a layer of Fat Free Cool Whip & topped with colorful, fresh berries...& did I already mention it's really, really low fat, like FAT FREE?  Almost too good to be true ~ but it is!  I just love it when you can find ingredients that let you create a dessert that's so easy to make, as well as so elegant & festive, too!

Since July 4th falls mid-week this year, our town's grand fireworks display, shot off over the lake, will be held on Sunday, July 1st ~ but everyone will be coming to the lake & hanging around town starting on Friday, June 29th.  That makes for a really long, extended weekend for celebrating the 4th.  I decided I better come up with a few desserts to keep my family & friends happy, that way every day leading up to the Fourth of July will be special, too.   Enjoy!

Guiltless Patriotic Fat Free Brownie Supreme with fresh Raspberries & Blueberries 

  • prepared brownies, either individual microwaved brownies using Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Fat Free Brownie Mix    OR    a full batch of your favorite brownies, store bought or home baked, cut into squares
  • fresh blueberries
  • fresh raspberries
  • tub of Fat Free Cool Whip
Place a brownie ((either still warm or cooled, but we like it best still warm)) in the dessert bowl or pretty glass of your choice.

Layer it with a generous mound of Fat Free Cool Whip, then top it all with fresh blueberries & raspberries.

The dessert can be made ahead of time & kept in the fridge until ready to serve, if you want it chilled ~ OR ~ assemble it at the last minute if space in the fridge is at a premium or you like to eat your brownie warm, like we do.  :)

Let's hear it for the Good Ol' Red, White & Blue!

Curried Lentil Stew ~ Meatless Monday

Curried Lentil Stew ~ I like lentils & cook with them a few times a month.  They come in a beautiful assortment of colors ~ brown, green, yellow, orange or black.  I'll use whatever color strikes my fancy or maybe what the recipe calls for, depends on my mood.  I usually buy my lentils from the bulk aisle of Whole Foods to get the best selection for color & freshness.

This Curried Lentil Stew is hearty & filling, without being heavy.  I substituted one of my powdered curry spice mixes (from Penzeys Spices) instead of the red curry paste, since that is what I had on hand.  I think the curry adds a nice flavor to the dish & heats it up just right.  I always love a dish that includes Indian spices & a curry blend happens to be my favorite.  The apple in the recipe lends a subtle sweetness to the dish that is just perfect.  Check out the recipe over at the blog ~ Squeaky Gourmet

Lemon French Yogurt Cake with Sugar Crunch Topping

Last spring,  I was reading a book that had recently been published called ~ Bonjour, Happiness! by Jamie Cat Callan.  It's a really fun read about the authors memories of her French grandmother, memorable meals/foods, her time living/traveling in France & how she has applied what she has learned to make her life more happy.  The thing that was really cool about the book was the recipes that were sprinkled here & there, little food gems just begging to be made & enjoyed.  One recipe that really tweaked my fancy was for a lemon yogurt cake with an unusual sugar topping (page 86 on the book preview link).  It reminds me of some simple French Yogurt Cake recipes that I've seen on the Internet, but with a twist.  Since I love lemon cake so much, I just had to try it.

Here is my adapted version of the recipe from the book.  I know I will be tinkering with the recipe some more, I want to try making it with some Meyer lemons next time & want to amp up/really heighten the sunny lemon flavor.  I just gotta say, the lemon sugar syrup topping that you pour over the finished cake is amazing!!   I was so impressed by it & I'm a hard sell when it comes to using a lot of sugar in a cake, but with this recipe, I will make an exception ~ it's that good.

I think the cake is best served when it has completely cooled & the lemon flavor has had a chance to totally soak in.  I really like it when the sugar topping has turned nice & crunchy/crusty.  I think the cake tastes just as good the second day, too.  The author prefers the cake served slightly warm, topped with whipped cream  (I didn't feel the cake needed the whipped cream, the sugar topping is the star & perfect as is) & then eaten/finished the same day.  Different strokes for different folks.  Either way you enjoy it, it's a wonderful lemon cake.  Bon Appétit!

Lemon French Yogurt Cake with Sugar Crunch Topping
* adapted from the recipe ~ The Mary Kelly Lemon Cake, from the book ~ Bonjour, Happiness!

for the lemon cake batter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp margarine
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup plain non fat or regular yogurt
  • zest from one lemon
for the crunchy sugar topping

  • 1/2 cup sugar (or enough to create a syrupy consistency)
  • juice of one whole lemon 

Preheat oven to 350*F degrees.  Grease cake pan & set aside. (I liked using the square pan for a change) 

Sift together the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, cream together margarine, 2 Tbsp lemon juice & sugar until light & fluffy.  Add egg & beat at high speed for 1 minute.  Alternately add yogurt & flour mixture in 3 additions, with mixer at low speed.  When batter is finished, stir in lemon zest.

Pour batter into the greased cake pan & smooth top with a spatula.  Bake in center of oven for 30-35  minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.

While cake is baking, make the crunchy sugar topping ~ combine sugar & lemon juice until it forms a syrupy consistency.  Spread the lemon syrup topping evenly over the cake as it comes out of the oven.  Set cake, in its pan, on a wire rack to cool.  As the cake cools, the topping will harden & form a crunchy sugar crust over the cake. 

Enjoy either completely cooled OR slightly warm.  I suggest you try it both ways & see which is your favorite way to eat it.  That's how I decided I prefer it completely cooled.  :)

S & B Golden Curry Mix ~ a quick & easy meal, ready in minutes

S&B Golden Curry Mix ~ This is the BEST Curry Mix there is!!  I've been a huge fan of this Japanese brand since the 1980's. It's so versatile, just add your favorite meat/veg, simmer for a few minutes, serve over cooked rice & just like that ~ you've got dinner.  This curry mix base is also perfect for using up any leftovers you have in the fridge, cheap & cheerful at it's best.  It comes in mild, medium-hot & hot ~ I usually use medium-hot or a 50/50 mix or mild & medium-hot.  It has a similar flavor to Indian curry, but different at the same time, it's addicting.  :)

When I worked in downtown L.A., I would go to some little restaurants in J-Town, many of them used it & I got hooked.  If your regular market doesn't carry it, you can order it on Amazon or try looking for it in an Asian Market, that's were I found it here.

Salmon ~ a perfectly healthy meal for Fish Friday

We eat fish at least once a week, usually salmon.  I buy the most awesome frozen salmon over at Trader Joe's ~ it's really flavorful, it's a great looking cut & the price for the quality is not bad at all.  They carry a HUGE array of frozen fish to choose from & I have enjoyed every type of fish I have ever purchased there.  If you are lucky enough to have a store near you, I highly recommend you go & check them out!

Most nights, I prepare our fish pretty simply.  Roy's favorite way to have his salmon is to have it sprinkled with a spice seasoning blend & then pan fried, in a little medium-hot oil.  That gives the salmon a crisp exterior crust & a meaty interior. Sometimes I'll drizzle a little maple syrup or teriyaki glaze over the salmon, just before it's done to give the fish a different flavor spin.  I also enjoy making a poached salmon, using a little white wine & some veggies for flavor.  I sometimes serve the salmon, either hot or cold, over a bed of crisp garden salad. 

Salmon really is a versatile fish & lends itself to just about any recipe presentation you can throw at it.  I've even used salmon in fish tacos to great success...

These are some of my current favorite spices to use when cooking my salmon.  The Smokehouse Maple is outstanding!!  We just love the sweet, 'bacony' flavor it gives the salmon...

Cooking fish is easy, about six minutes per inch (3 minutes per side) is all the time it takes to make a great meal.  You need to make sure of the thickens of the fish before you start cooking, that way you won't overcook it.  Sometimes a filet is thinner at one end, if so I will tuck under the thinner part of the filet to make sure it's all more uniform in size.

When I cook fish for dinner, I make sure all the side dishes & salad/soup are ready to go.  I also have the table set before I start cooking the fish.  That way I know I am just about six minutes away from eating a great meal when I put the fish on.  :)  I hope these photos inspire you to try making some salmon tonight!

Taco Night ~ making lower fat tacos using ground turkey breast

7/11/2013 ** Last month while I was on vacation, Tina (a new reader of the blog), commented on this post for Turkey Tacos.  I've just gotten around to responding to her (sorry for the delay!)  Since I am still missing all the Mexican food I was eating while in Ixtapa, Mexico, I thought this would be a good meal to make for dinner tonight.  I decided to 'share' this original 6/21/2012 post again on the blog.  Taco Night's rule ~ Enjoy! **


I decided I wanted crispy, crunchy tacos for dinner tonight & I also wanted a healthy, lower fat option.  To reach this goal, I decided to try making my tacos with ground turkey breast instead of the usual ground beef.  What a good decision that was!  Ground turkey breast is sooo low in fat & once you add the additional ingredients it tastes just like regular beef tacos. (I'm sure ground chicken would give you similar results) ~ SCORE!

To help achieve the traditional beef taco meat flavor, I included a taco spice mix packet & mashed chili beans in with the cooked turkey taco meat.  The combo of three ingredients was perfect.  Our dinner was just like having regular beef tacos, only healthier.  Keep the healthier options going by using low carb/low fat tortillas, shredded low fat or soy cheese & plain yogurt or fat free sour cream.  I love it when healthier options still taste so good!

Ground Turkey Meat Tacos ~
 good for either Crispy Taco Shells or Soft Flour Tortilla Tacos
8~12 tacos

  • one pound ground turkey breast, lean
  • one packet of taco spice mix
  • 1/2 can chili beans, in sauce
  • box of crispy taco shells or taco size flour tortillas
  • your favorite toppings for tacos, like ~ shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, chopped cilantro, sour cream, olives, hot sauce, salsa & any additional taco toppings that you like

Prepare all toppings that you want to use for your tacos & keep in fridge until time to assemble.  Preheat oven if necessary for warming the taco shells.

Cook ground turkey meat until completely cooked through, drain if necessary.

Add the packet of taco spice mix to the cooked turkey meat & follow directions on packet for completing the taco meat.

While taco meat is simmering, prepare the taco shells ~  If using crispy tacos, follow directions for heating taco shells in the oven.  If making soft tacos, follow package directions for warming the tortillas.

Once taco meat is complete, add 1/2 can chili beans.  Mash the beans into the turkey taco meat & stir thoroughly.  Let the taco meat mixture simmer for one minute, then it is ready to serve.   By now, the once stark white turkey meat has changed into a lovely rich, reddish brown color & has the aroma & flavor of beef taco meat.

Assemble your tacos.  Enjoy! 

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup ~ I love ordering French Onion Soup when I go out to eat ~ to me, it's the ultimate indulgence soup.  There is just something about the carmelized onions, deeply flavored broth & melted, gooey cheese that just sends me.   I thought that since I like it so much, I really should learn how to make it at home.  I decided to go to the queen of French cooking, Julia Child, for inspiration.  Her version takes a bit of time, comes out a bit murky, but it tastes superb.  I'm all about the taste & it really delivers.

Eating it with 'really big cheesy croutons' (OK, garlic rubbed cheese toast) is easier when everybody likes to dip the bread instead of chase a crouton around the bowl, trying to cut it with their spoon. Works for us. :)  Try the adapted  recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, it's really good & is SO worth the effort! 

Homemade Apple Schnapps ~ making homemade Hooch

I learned how to make this very easy version of Homemade Apple Schnapps while visiting some friends, up in Canada, back in the fall of 1993.  They served this delightful beverage to the houseful of guests that were staying with them during the Oktoberfest festivitiesSchnapps is originally from Germany & is a favorite of mine, from way back.  When I first started making this concoction back home, I dubbed it 'Hooch' & I've been making, enjoying & sharing it for almost two decades.

You can easily change up the flavor of the schnapps, just by choosing a different juice concentrate.  I'm partial to the apple flavor, probably because it's the original way I had it.  (my trademark hooch is only made with apple juice concentrate :)   I decant the schnapps/hooch into pretty bottles & keep it in the fridge.  It's perfect to drink before/after dinner or turned into a cocktail, using your favorite mixer. **  Please note:  This is an adult mixed alcoholic beverage.  No underage drinking allowed! Do not overindulge.  Enjoy responsibly.  :)  **

Homemade Apple Schnapps                       

  • one 750ml bottle of Vodka
  • five cans of apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • water to taste

Empty the Vodka into a large pitcher & add all the cans of thawed apple juice concentrate.  Stir until well combined.

Taste & add water if desired, to get it just the way you like it ~ whatever suits your fancy.  Store in the fridge & always keep chilled.

Enjoy straight up as a cordial for sipping after dinner; serve it over ice; maybe a small glassful before dinner or with your favorite mixer as a cocktail. 

Easy Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp ~ This is the recipe J & I made, using his Alpha Bakery Children's Cookbook.  I ordered this cookbook from Gold Medal Flour, w-a-y back in 1998.  That was six years before I had J...and another five years before we started making recipes from it.  It was worth the wait ~ the recipes are fun & colorful, easy to make, directions are easy to follow & they taste great!

If the type on the above picture recipe is too teeny-tiny for you to read, (heehee, I need my reading glasses to read the book, fat chance me reading the picture :)  here is a very similar recipe from the Betty Crocker site.  The kids version above includes walnuts.  We like walnuts.  Walnuts make us happy.  Include some walnuts.  :)   

Impossibly Easy French Apple Pie

Impossibly Easy French Apple Pie ~ One word - YUM!!! This is a really easy recipe from Betty Crocker.  The recipe called for regular Bisquick, but I used Heart Healthy Bisquick instead.  I also used skim milk & light margarine instead of the full fat options ~ every little bit helps.  :)

I'm not much of a baker & pie crusts make me cranky, so I just fell in love with this recipe.  All you do is pour the prepared Bisquick mixture over the sliced apple/spice mixture & bake.  It's SO easy & is a really friendly option for those of us who are baking challenged.  This apple pie lasted no time at all ~ we all enjoyed it, VERY MUCH!!  :)   Hope you try the recipe, I'm sure you'll love it, too.

Homemade Chunky Cinnamon Applesauce

Super Easy Homemade Chunky Cinnamon Applesauce ~ When J & I go apple picking, applesauce is always one of the first things I make with the bags of apples we bring home.  The way I make my applesauce is as easy as can be ~ so make a big batch.  If you don't have fresh picked apples, don't worry, just buy some at the store.  I usually wait for apples to go on sale & then make a big pot full.  You can make the applesauce with just one kind of apple or an assortment.  I like using a bunch of different apples if I can ~ Gala, Empire & Cortlands are my favorites.  I save my quart jars & fill them up with applesauce, some to keep in the fridge & some to share.  Sometimes, I'll put applesauce in one quart Ziplock baggies & store them in the freezer (just like I do with my Strawberry Jam) ~ so that way I always have homemade applesauce on hand.  Score one for Mom!

Homemade Chunky Cinnamon Applesauce
  • 8 apples, peeled, cored & cut into chunks ~ I like to use a mixture of apples if I can
  • 1 1/4 cup water or apple juice, depending on how sweet you like your applesauce or how tart your apples are ~  (I usually use water)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)  

Place apple chunks in a large pot.  Add the water & lemon juice.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer & cover pot.  Cook until apples are soft, about 20-30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Apples will begin to break down & give off juice.  If it starts to get too dry, add a little bit more water.

When apples are tender, add sugar & cinnamon.  Stir until well combined.

Smash apple mixture with a potato masher, until the applesauce becomes as chunky as you like.  (we like ours pretty chunky)  Taste & add more cinnamon or sugar if needed.  If applesauce it a bit too thin, keep simmering it until it gets as thick as you like it.  It will thicken slightly as it cools.

Eat it warm or chilled.  I'll sometimes add a little whipped cream & a sprinkle of cinnamon when I serve it for dessert.  Just because...  :) 


Low Fat Crock Pot Apple Pie

Low Fat Crock Pot Apple Pie ~ I found this recipe while surfing on the web.  Making an apple pie in the crock pot sounded interesting, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Sad to say, this was only so-so when we had it warm out of the crock... but, after sitting in the fridge overnight ~ Ooh, la, la!  It was REALLY good. 

When it's chilled, this dessert reminds me of all the good bits left behind in the pie pan. Taste wise, it had the correct flavor for an apple pie ~ but texture wise it comes out more like a soft cobbler than a pie.  This dessert was off to a shaky start, but was a happy surprise the next day, so it gets a thumbs up.  I'll definitely make this dessert again.  :)

(Almost) Homemade Classic Apple Pie ~ homemade apple pie filling with a store bought crust

(Almost) Homemade Classic Apple Pie ~ homemade Apple Pie Filling with a store bought crust ~ When J & I bring back apples from the orchard, Roy always likes me to make an apple pie.  When Roy was growing up in England, he & his brothers would pick apples off the apple tree in their backyard & then his Mom would make homemade apple pies.  Roy remembers those pies fondly & wants J to have the same sort of 'picking, making & eating homemade apple pie' childhood memories...

Well, you might remember me mentioning this before ~ the fact that I am a challenged baker...  I can make a few things well, but when I stray too far off the dessert baking path, (like I can do with non-baking cooking, with no problems) well...I run into problems.  Like with baking 'from scratch' pies (i.e., the apple pies Roy likes) ~ I've tried making a pie crust a few times...it was NOT pretty.  Well, maybe it was pretty...awful.  As I remember it, the crusts all turned out tough.  Never one to give up, I knew there was more than one way to bake a pie, so I turned to the fastest way I knew how.  I went to the store, hit the freezer aisle & bought some frozen pie crusts.  Problem solved.  Works for this gal!  What also works for this gal is the two for $1 Apple Pies at McDonald's.  I admit it, I really like them.  (I totally agree with Carrie from SATC on that one)

Now, all that being said, I do make the Apple Pie Filling from scratch, no canned pie filling for me.  Funny, I have no trouble with the fruit filling aspect ~ just the flour part trips me up every time.  My cooking motto: Play to your strengths & downplay your weakness.  :)

Here is the recipe I use for the Apple Pie Filling, it's taken from an America's Test Kitchen Cookbook.  Just skip right past the part on making the crust (it's already thawing out on the counter, right?) & go directly to the 'For the pie' instructions.  You'll be enjoying your (Almost) Homemade Classic Apple Pie in no time!

Low-Cal Baked Breakfast Cinnamon Apples with Oatmeal Raisin Crumble

I'm trying to be good about working more apples into our diet, so, I've decided to do a week of apple recipes.  As the old saying goes ~ An apple a day keeps the doctor away ~ and I'm all for that!  Besides, I just so happen to have seven pictures of apple recipes that are waiting patiently for their turn on the blog ~ sounds like serendipity to me!

I enjoy making this low calorie, low fat Baked Breakfast Cinnamon Apple recipe for breakfast, but also for dessert.  It tastes so indulgent, but it really isn't.  If you haven't tried grating whole nutmeg, I highly recommend it.  Freshly grated nutmeg tastes nothing like the jarred version ~ it's addicting, in a totally good way.

In just about a month we'll be able to start apple picking again.  We're lucky enough to have a wonderful apple orchard that's not too far from our house.  They have 27 different varieties of apples & over 4,000 apple trees set among acres & acres of orchard to wander through.  J & I love to spend the day picking apples, taking a tractor ride around the orchard, enjoying some fresh pressed cider & then having a picnic under the trees.  The apple picking starts in early July & goes on through October.  We go back every few weeks ~ needless to say, we pick A LOT of apples.

Low-Cal Baked Breakfast Cinnamon Apples with Oatmeal Raisin Crumble
serves 2

  • 2 large cored Gala apples  (or your favorite baking apple) make sure the center core is big enough to hold the oatmeal crumble
  • 1/3 cup quick oatmeal
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 packet Equal (or sweetener of choice)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or pancake syrup ~ regular or sugar free)
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray
  • extra cinnamon for sprinkling
  • Pam cooking spray 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F & coat a small baking dish (or glass Pyrex custard cups if you are using those) with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, place the oatmeal, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, Equal & one tablespoon maple syrup ~ mix until well combined.  Divide mixture in half.

Place the cored apples in the baking dish & spray the apples, inside & out, lightly with the butter spray.

Spoon the oatmeal crumble mixture into the center of the apples, mounding the top & letting overflow around the apple if necessary.

Spray the apples/crumble all over, once again, with the butter spray & then drizzle the remaining two tablespoon of maple syrup evenly over the apples & crumble.  Finish with a light dusting of cinnamon on the apples.

Place stuffed apples in the preheated oven & bake for about 20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through & are tender, but not mushy & the oatmeal crumble is a golden brown.

Serve as is, or like Roy likes it ~ with a little bit of milk poured around the bottom of the apple & a bit of whipped cream.


Chicken, Broccoli & Mushroom Alfredo

Chicken, Broccoli & Mushroom Alfredo ~ Sometimes following the recipe on the back of the Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup can is a good thing. I was uninspired for dinner & had all the ingredients to make this.  It's a quick dinner that was no fuss.  J liked it, so it's kid approved.  :)

Cocoa Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies

Cocoa Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies ~ Another great way to eat your breakfast cookies.  These also include protein powder & carob chips, so you get a double hit of chocolate flavor & some extra protein.  What a great way to start your day!

I think I got a bit carried way when making this next Banana Oat Breakfast Cookie...but, it's so easy to do.  I start thinking of all the things I would normally put in a bowl of oatmeal & then I start thinking outside the box, er...I mean bowl.  I thought about how to get more protein into the cookie ~ maybe make it with more of a traditional cookie flavor, maybe add some chocolate flavor...and so on, and so on.

Well, here is my next recipe ~ Cocoa Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies & I think it's another winner.  I used unsweetened cocoa powder, instant coffee & carob chips to get a chocolate flavor and I used protein powder to pack more of a nutritional punch.  These are wonderful right out of the oven ~ the carob chips get nice & soft & gooey...yummm.  The chips took on a wonderful dark chocolate/brown sugar flavor & the whole thing reminded me of a double chocolate chip cookie, only healthier/chewier.   There just seems to be no end to the ways you can change up this Breakfast Cookie ~ & still no flour, eggs, dairy or sugar.  Very cool!

I like making these Cocoa Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies a bit smaller than the other two recipes I've come up with.  Personal preference ~ but, if you like 'em big, make 'em big.  :)  Wonder what kind the next batch of Breakfast Cookies will be?   :)

  Cocoa Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies 
makes 14 BIG cookies or 24-30 regular sized cookies

  • 1  cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2  Tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1  tsp vanilla extract
  • 1  tsp cinnamon
  • 1  Tbsp instant coffee, mixed in 2 Tbsp hot water until completely dissolved
  • 1 1/2 cups  oatmeal, quick or old fashioned
  • 2  scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 3  ripe bananas, mashed with fork until creamy
  • 1/3 cup  chopped dates (or raisins if you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup  chopped walnuts
  • 4 Tbsp  ground flax
  • 4 Tbsp  carob chips
  • 4 Tbsp  oat bran

Preheat heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa powder & instant coffee/water into the applesauce until well blended.

Mix applesauce mixture with all other ingredients in a big bowl & let sit for 10 minutes.

Drop cookie dough, by spoonfuls, onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet & flatten cookies into rounds.

Bake approx. 20-30 minutes, (depending on size of cookie) or until done they will turn a deep golden brown.

Let cookies cool on rack & then store in a covered container.

Make sure to try some of these when they are still warm ~ really yummy!

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