Watermelon Popsicles

Watermelon Popsicles

Record temperatures are occurring across the country. Yesterday in Las Vegas, it was 115° F! The temperature at 9:00 p.m. was 107° F. So I was delighted when I received my Norpro Frozen Ice Pop Maker from Amazon.com.

You can find popsicle recipes all over the internet. But it took a recent show on Rachael Ray that made me finally buy the molds. The guest on her show used watermelon and kiwi purees with mini chocolate chips to make them look like “real” slices of watermelon. I bought the chocolate chips, but the chips sank to the bottom. I was lazy and didn’t want to wait for the puree to get partially frozen to add the chips. I loved the taste of the watermelon, which was refreshing and sweet. The kiwi was a nice artistic touch, but it was tangy and tart! My daughter will be coming home in a week from her internship in Washington, D.C. and I know that she will just love the “plain” watermelon popsicles! Needless to say, I look forward to experimenting with different fruits to make naturally sweet, tasty and healthy ice pops!

Norpro Frozen Ice Pop Maker

 

Watermelon Popsicles

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups watermelon puree
  • ½ cup kiwi puree (approximately 4 kiwis)
  • Sweetener (optional) for kiwi
  • Popsicle mold + popsicle sticks (10 3 ounce individual molds)

Directions:

  1. Using a blender, make the watermelon puree by cutting up the melon into large chunks (1″ x 2″) enough to make 3 cups.
  2. Rinse out the blender and place chopped up pieces of kiwi into it. Puree the kiwi.
  3. Pour the watermelon puree into the mold, leaving ¾” free for the kiwi puree.
  4. Cover the mold and place in the freezer for 1 to 1¼ hours.
  5. Add the kiwi puree to the top of the mold. Cover and place the popsicle sticks in the slots. Freeze until hard.
  6. To remove the popsicles from mold, place the mold container in a large container or a sink filled with warm water for about 20 seconds. Gently remove and eat immediately or cover each popsicle individually with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.

 

Watermelon Popsicles

Chocolate Espresso Snickerdoodles

Chocolate Espresso Snickerdoodles

This week I will be traveling to Greenville, South Carolina, to see my daughter participate at the American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship Tournament, so I decided to bake a different version of her favorite Snickerdoodle cookie. I made her some Chocolate Espresso Snickerdoodles! Since the recipe contained espresso instant coffee, I had to search the Internet as to where to buy it. Fortunately, I was able to purchase the espresso at my local Target store. You can also find more expensive ones at Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table.

My husband absolutely loved this cookie! It is slightly underbaked to have a chewy consistency, but it has a wonderful chocolatey flavor that is enhanced by the addition of espresso. I had to keep “yelling” at my hubby to stay away from the cookies! If you are looking for a delicious and simple chocolate cookie, you should definitely try this one. I found this recipe on a post by Abby Capalbo, posted on February 20, 2016, on the Style Me Pretty website. You won’t be disappointed and neither will Laura and the rest of her team!

Chocolate Espresso Snickerdoodles

 

Chocolate Espresso Snickerdoodles


Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cups organic all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cups Hershey’s Cocoa Natural Unsweetened
  • 1½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) organic unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons espresso instant coffee
  • 1 cup organic light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup organic granulated sugar
  • 2 organic large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons organic granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Using a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, coffee, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl, until light and fluffy.
  3. Add one egg and thoroughly blend, before adding second egg and vanilla extract. Add flour-cocoa mixture in two batches. Mixing until just combined. Refrigerate batter for an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Mix together cinnamon and granulated sugar in a small shallow bowl.
  6. Using a spoon or ice cream scooper, make 1-inch balls with cookie dough. Roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on parchment lined cookie sheet, 2-inches apart. Flattened balls slightly with bottom of drinking glass.
  7. Bake to 8 to 10 minutes, until cookies are flattened and crackly. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, before transferring to cooling rack. 

 

Chocolate Espresso Snickerdoodles

Chocolate Espresso Snickerdoodles

Almond-Tangerine Panna Cotta

Almond-Tangerine Panna Cotta

I have never made panna cotta before, but when I found this lovely and healthier version on the Better Homes & Garden website, I had to save it on Pinterest! What caught my attention was not just their pretty picture, but that it was made with nonfat milk and nonfat Greek yogurt! The traditional Italian dessert is made with cream.

This delicious dessert was so easy to make. It is so light and refreshing! I loved the pomegranate sauce with the tangerine slices. Instead of dried cherries, I used dark Morello cherries that already had in my refrigerator. It was yummy, but it would taste great with any fresh berry! I hope that you will try this simple and healthy dessert!

DSC_0845

DSC_0847

Ingredients:  

  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup organic nonfat milk
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ½ + ¼ teaspoon organic almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon organic sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate juice
  • ½ cup tangerine sections
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried cherries

Directions:

  1. Lightly grease 4 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins with vegetable oil and place in a shallow baking dish. Using a small saucepan, mix together 3 tablespoons sugar and gelatin. Pour milk in and stir. Over medium heat, dissolve the gelatin, while stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Whisk in the yogurt and add ½ teaspoon of almond extract. Blend mixture until smooth. Pour into custard cups. Cover and chill until set, about 4 hours.
  2. To make the sauce, stir together 1 tablespoon sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Whisk in pomegranate juice. Cook over medium heat, until sauce thickens and becomes transparent. Remove from heat. Stir in ¼ teaspoon almond extract and cool. Gently add in fruit.
  3. To loosen panna cotta from custard cups, immerse bottoms in hot water for 10 seconds. Using a small sharp knife, trace around the edges. Place a serving plate over top of custard cup and flip over, so that cup is on top of plate. Repeat 3 more times. Serve with sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Almond-Tangerine Panna Cotta

White Chocolate and Candy Cane Hearts

White Chocolate and Candy Cane Hearts

One of my favorite holidays growing up was Valentine’s Day and it still is! I enjoy creating treats that are simple to prepare, taste delicious and look pretty. When making these delightful sweets, I tried to find the ingredients with the least amount of additives. The worst ingredient, of course, is sugar. But each lollipop has less than 100 calories. The idea for this treat came from a “pin” that I had pinned over a year ago from One Little Project. This “lolli” is so cute and yummy that I hope my daughter will make it someday when she has kids!

White Chocolate and Candy Cane Hearts

White Chocolate and Candy Cane Hearts

Ingredients:

  • 10 6-inch lollipop sticks
  • 20 2½-inch mini candy canes
  • 1 Ghirardelli (4 ounce) White Chocolate bar
  • Red, pink and white sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place lollipop sticks on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  3. Arrange the candy canes at the top of the sticks in the shape of hearts.
  4. Place the hearts in the oven for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and press and shape the candy canes together to make hearts.
  6. Fill the centers with a few teaspoons of melted white chocolate and then add the sprinkles.
  7. Place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to harden the chocolate. The hearts should come off easily from the parchment paper. Makes 10 lollipops.

White Chocolate and Candy Cane Hearts

White Chocolate and Candy Cane Hearts

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

The first and only time I ever made gingerbread cookies was years ago. The recipe I used was terrible and it ended up in the garbage. Recently, I came across the Ree Drummond’s recipe and thought I would give it a try. Ree is more commonly know as “The Pioneer Woman.” I tried to make her cookies as healthy as possible by using almost all organic ingredients and reducing the amount of salt by using unsalted butter. The only place I could find natural flavored maple extract was at Target. My local grocery store had artificial flavored maple extract and it wasn’t available at my local Whole Foods.

I have to say that Ree’s gingerbread cookie has the perfect blend of spices! It didn’t dawn on me that the cookie would be hard, as opposed to be crisp; but it has to been hard so that you can make all those pretty gingerbread houses during the holidays. My husband told me that he doesn’t like that particular cookie, but guess who was begging to eat more of them before they were decorated! Now, that is quite the endorsement coming from my picky husband!

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon organic ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup organic unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups organic brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon maple extract
  • Mini M&Ms or decorations of your choice

Directions:

  1. Using a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  2. Using a mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Very slowly, add the molasses, making sure it is well-combined by scraping the sides of bowl several times while mixing. Add eggs and maple extract and mix thoroughly. Add flour in batches. (I found the cookie dough to be on the “dry” side).
  3. Cover dough in bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimal of 2 hours. (I did not need to refrigerate the dough, so I divided it half and made 2 “balls”).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of wax paper, until it is about ¼-inch thick. Using cookie cutters of your choice, cut shapes and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake between 10 and 12 minutes, until cookies are baked through, but still soft. Be careful not to over bake, because the cookies will be hard. Cool cookies.

Royal Icing

The recipe below is from Alton Brown of the Food Network. Don’t be alarm if the icing appears to be “tan” in color from the vanilla. As you add more sugar, the icing will get “whiter” in color. I also found it helpful to use a rubber band at the end of the pastry bag to keep the icing from “leaking” out. I have never made royal icing or used a pastry bag before, so these are my observations as a beginner!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

  1. Using a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy.
  2. Gradually add sugar at a low-speed, until blended and shiny in appearance.
  3. Turn up speed on mixer and beat until you get stiff, glossy peaks.
  4. Transfer icing to a pastry bag.

Gingerbread Cookies

Lemon Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

This is one of my favorite desserts to eat around the holiday season! It is light and lemony, has touches of color from the raspberries and raspberry purée and has a delicious chocolate crust. I love using Neufchâtel cheese, instead of cream cheese, because it has less fat. There is a difference between American Neufchâtel cheese and French Neufchâtel cheese. The American version is made from cream and pasteurized milk, while the original French cheese is made from raw whole milk. The chocolaty crust is made from Oreo cookie wafers crumbs. My husband and I have tasted several chocolate cookie wafers and we both agree that Nabisco’s Oreos make the best crust! This yummy lemon cheesecake is so simple to prepare, since there is no baking and only seven ingredients are used! 
No Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cup Oreo cookie wafers crumbs (about 19 cookies with cream filling removed)
  • ⅔ cup + 2 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 6 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 (8-ounce) Neufchâtel cheese packages
  • ¼ cups fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. Crush cookie wafers in a food processor or use a rolling-pin to crush the wafers in a plastic sandwich bag. Using a medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs and 2 tablespoons sugar together. Add the butter and combine until crumb mixture holds together. Transfer mixture into a 8-inch springform pan and pat out evenly on the bottom. Place in the freezer while preparing the next step.
  2. Add cheese, lemon juice, zest and ⅔ cup sugar in a mixer or large bowl. Beat together until ingredients are well combined. Using a medium bowl, whip the cream until you get soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Remove crust from freezer and spread filling evenly into pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator for another 30 minutes, until it sets.
  3. Using a fine strainer, smash half the raspberries so that only the seeds are left in the strainer and you have purée in a small bowl. Transfer purée into a small squeezer bottle.  Serve cake with remaining raspberries and purée.

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

Organic Sugar Cookies

Organic Sugar Cookies

When baking one of my favorite cookies, I was able to use all organic ingredients, except for the baking powder and the decorations. I did search the internet for organic colored sugar, but could only find “natural” sugar. I was able to find organic food coloring, but it was $9.99 for 1 ounce and the manufacturer could not guarantee the flavor, if subjected to heat. I would then have to make my own sugar. Fortunately, no one in my family has any known sensitivity to food dyes. With that being said, I decided to use what I already had in my pantry, since I rarely bake and decorate cookies. For those who prefer not to use colored sugar, the cookies are still quite festive using Halloween cookie cutters and plain sugar!

The sugar cookie recipe that I am sharing with you is one that my mother used when baking cookies for my sister and me. In fact, my mom made them using margarine, OMG! These delicious cookies are tender and with a delicate buttery taste and hold their shape well for decorating, whether you decorate using sugar or royal icing.

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup organic butter
  • ¾ cup organic sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon organic vanilla
  • 1 organic egg
  • 2 cups sifted organic flour
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Colored sugar
  • Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (ghost’s eyes)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add egg and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into cream mixture, blending well.
  3. Divide dough in half. Cover. Chill 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it is ¼-inch thick. Cut into desired shape using a cookie cutter. Decorate with sugar. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Makes about 2½ dozens cookies.

Organic Sugar Cookies

 

My Favorite Little Pumpkin

The pictures below were taken twenty years ago, when my daughter, Laura, was five-months-old. They were taken on a beautiful fall day in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. I was quite crafty back then, because I made her costume. I was quite practical too, because she wore it the next year as a walking pumpkin! These pictures bring back fond memories of our little girl and our days in Colorado! For those of you, who participate in the holiday, wishing you a happy and safe Halloween!

Laura's First Halloween 2

Laura's First Halloween