Monthly Archives: March 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (No-Bake)

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Ingredients:

2/3 cup almonds

2/3 cup raw walnuts

2/3 cup oat flakes

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

¼ cup honey

3- 4 Tablespoons chocolate chips

Directions and Notes:

1. Combine almonds, walnuts, oat flakes, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Process until all ingredients are combined into fine pieces.

2. Add the honey and vanilla and process until evenly combined.

3. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Form the mixture into balls, about 1 Tablespoon each. Freeze for one hour before eating. Store in the freezer.

Serving Estimate: Makes about 12 balls

Sesame Ginger Dressing

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Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons sesame oil

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ginger root

1 clove garlic

1 ½ Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Directions & Notes:

In a magic bullet cup or blender, combine all ingredients except for sesame seeds and blend for about a minute until smooth. Serve over salad and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds for an extra sesame touch if desired.

Butternut Squash Soup

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Ingredients:

½- 2/3 large butternut squash, divided into 5-6 long slices

1 teaspoon oil

2 cloves garlic

1 onion

2 stalks of celery

4 cups chicken broth

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns, or ground black pepper

½ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon basil

Directions & Notes:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Slice the squash into long slices, place on a baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes until tender.

3. Dice the celery and onion, and slice the garlic into  a few thin pieces. During the last five minutes that the butternut squash is roasting, heat the oil on low heat in a large pan or heavy-bottomed pot and add the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until they are beginning to soften.

4. Add the chicken broth, black pepper, thyme, and basil and heat over medium heat.

5. By this time, the butternut squash has finished roasting. Cut the softened squash away from its hard outer shell and cut into large cubes… the size doesn’t matter much; it should be soft and will mix easily when it’s incorporated.

6. Add the squash to the large pot/ pan. Boil for 10-15 minutes until the flavors have melded.

7. Pour this mixture into a blender. (Use appropriate precautions when dealing with hot liquids and your blender to prevent any negative outcome (cracking blender, melting blender, etc.))  Depending on your blender you may need to let the mixture cool a little before blending.

8. Return the mixture to the original pot/ pan and salt to taste.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Coffee Cake

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Ingredients:

For the cake:

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon + 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup pumpkin puree

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup milk

3 Tablespoons white sugar

4 Tablespoons brown sugar (divided)

For the topping:

½ cup whole wheat flour

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 ½- 3 Tablespoons oil

Directions & Notes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and oil an 8 x 8 square pan.

2. Dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, mix the 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, salt, white sugar, and 2 Tablespoons of the brown sugar. (As usual, because our brown sugar here clumps so easily when it contacts liquid, I mix it in with the dry ingredients.)

3. Wet ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, vanilla, eggs, and milk.

4. Stir these wet and dry ingredients together.

5. Middle layer: In a separate small bowl, combine the 1 Tablespoon cinnamon and the remaining 2 Tablespoons brown sugar.

6. Topping: In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients until crumbly.

7. Pour half of the cake batter into the 8 x 8 pan. Top with the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Then add the rest of the cake batter to the top of the pan.

8. Sprinkle the crumbly topping on top of the cake.

9. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few small cake crumbles on it. Serve warm.

This recipe adapted from HealthyFoodForLiving.

Russian-Themed Date

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This year I decided to plan a year worth of dates that took us “around the world” to experience different cultures, food, drinks, etc. January’s destination was Russia.

Ideas:

  • Dress up as Russian mobsters or in traditional Russian dress, etc. I knew we were going to be playing a version of Russian Roulette later in the evening, so I made the dress code “Russian mobsters.” We had no idea what we were doing but just had fun with it.

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  • Play some Russian music. Watch a Russian dance performance like this one, this one, or this one from youtube.
  • Learn a Russian dance. We had a lot of fun following along with the “Just Dance” versions of Rasputin and Moskau.
  • Make some Russian food. We tried some Russian beef stroganoff and Russian cabbage and egg pirozhkis with some small adjustments and really liked them both.
  • Play a version of Russian Roulette with whatever rules you choose. I got a cheap toy gun and placed it on a plate in the middle of a circle of paper Russian dolls. Each doll can hold fun drinks, Russian-themed snacks, candy, something really good or something really gross, etc. Simply spin and eat, or incorporate some fun element like “Truth or Dare,” a dance-off, etc. between each round to determine who spins.

  • Finish the evening with watching a movie. Some movies we got in preparation for the evening are the animated version of Anastasia, The Hunt for Red October, and K-19: The Widowmaker (starring some back-in-the-day versions of Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson).

At-Home Melting Pot Fondue Dinner Date

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Cheese & Chocolate… any date that involves large quantities of these two is definitely to be enjoyed!

Ideas:

  • Set up a fondue bar with a few different fondues, several meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains for dipping, and dipping sauces.
  • Make the dining area really fancy with a tablecloth, cloth napkins, fancy glasses and nice plates.
  • Send a fun invitation to your date the day of the dinner.

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  • Play soft dinner music in the background.
  • Eat at the table or sit on the floor around a low coffee table.
  • Chocolate Fondue: Dipping foods: mangoes, pears, strawberries, bananas, pineapple, apples, angel food cake, pound cake, sweet crackers, marshmallows. For the chocolate fondue, I just melted some dark chocolate with 1-2 Tablespoons of oil until the chocolate reached a consistency I liked.
  • Broth Fondue: Dipping foods: meatballs, pre-cooked bite-sized meats, shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, vegetables, potato pieces, sauces for dipping. The recipe I used is below.
  • Cheese Fondue: Dipping foods: cubed french/Italian bread, homemade croutons, veggie pieces, mushrooms. florets of broccoli and cauliflower, bite-sized cooked chicken or mini chicken legs, beef & pork slices (pre-cooked), roasted potatoes. The recipe I used is below.
  • Serve all of the fondues at the same time or one by one.

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Cheese Fondue Recipe

Ingredients: 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese, 2 teaspoons flour, up to 1 cup liquid of choice such as milk, cream, or chicken or vegetable broth (play with these or combinations of these according to your desired taste), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Mix the flour and cheeses in a medium bowl and set aside. Heat 3/4 cups of the liquid and garlic powder over low heat. Stir in the cheese a little at a time. Continue adding cheese until the desired consistency is reached. Add more liquid if it becomes too thick. I like to use my rice cooker set on “warm” to serve this because it keeps it soft and dip-able.

Oil/ Broth Fondue

Ingredients: 2 bay leaves, 4-5 garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons dried parsley or Italian seasoning, 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper, 3 cups water, about 3 cups of beef broth, 1 package French onion soup mix, salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste

Directions: Mix all of these ingredients together in a fondue pan or electric pan & allow to simmer together for about an hour. This recipe is really flexible… I start here and then play with it until it tastes just the way I like.

Wasabi Dip

Mix about 1/4 teaspoon wasabi with about 3 Tablespoons soy sauce in a small dish. Add more wasabi if desired.

Garlic Chili Dip

In a small dish, mix 3 Tablespoons soy sauce and 1 Tablespoon garlic/ chili sauce. Add more garlic/ chili sauce to taste.

Cocktail Sauce

In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup ketchup, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon horseradish, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

Honey Mustard Dip

In a small dish, combine 1/4 cup honey, 2 Tablespoons of dijon mustard (or regular mustard), and salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet and Sour Dip

In a small dish, combine 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 Tablespoons of ketchup, and 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Indian Buffet & Double-Feature Movie Night

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We love Indian food, so one evening we had a really fun Indian buffet. I went crazy making tons of Indian food, but it was well worth the work. We ate until we were going to burst! Highly recommended!

Ideas:

  • Send a fun India-themed invitation a day or two in advance.

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  • Print an India-themed banner and cards for the different buffet dishes. If you’d like edit-able versions of the invite, banner, or food label cards, just let me know.

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  • Decorate a sitting area with big, colorful pillows, an elephant-themed banner, colorful scarves, mirrors & candles, etc. Just use what you have or borrow some scarves and pillows from a friend.

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  • Play some Indian music such as this Indian Lounge Music or this Bollywood songs collection.
  • Enjoy some pre-meal couples yoga. I made a PPT with some moves that I thought were do-able. :) I’m happy to pass it along if anyone’s interested. Just comment and I can e-mail it to you.
  • During the buffet, enjoy a double-feature of movies that are set in, partially set in, about, or somehow otherwise related to India. We watched “Bride and Prejudice” and “Eat, Pray, Love,” part of which takes place in India.
  • Make some fun recipes, as many or few as you like. I made a ton of them, and it was a while back. I know I had to adjust some ingredients because of what’s available where I live, but there’s a list below of links to some that I remember being really good starting points.

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Some India-Themed Recipes on This Blog:

Indian Cabbage Curry

Indian Chole (Chickpea Curry)

Indian-Style Beef Kabobs with Cilantro Sauce

Naan

Paneer

Potato Bhurta

Saag Paneer

Tandoori Chicken Legs

Tandoori Spice Mix

 

Enjoy!!!