Monday, January 30, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pops and Peanut Butter Balls

I finally made my first attempt at cake pops, well not really cake pops.  I've seen so many great posts around the blogosphere, but never got around to making them.  I'm always late coming to the party it seems. These Chocolate Peanut Butter Pops are not cake at all, but a mixture of peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, and Rice Krispies, dipped in melted chocolate, and taste out of this world!  You see I first had Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls at my now Daughter-in-Law's bridal shower. Cherise's Grandma Lorraine made them for Cherise's shower, because she loves chocolate and peanut butter. I found out that her Grandma has been making these same Peanut Butter Balls, for over 50 years, since Cherise's Mom, Camille, was a little girl.  This is truly an heirloom recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

I decided to try making the Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls into the ever popular "pops" in honor of National, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Day, Week, no Month:)  Because they have Rice Krispies mixed in them, they aren't as smooth, as they would have been, if they had been made with cake. If you aren't in the "pop" mode, you can just make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls, which  sort of look like big truffles.  You could even put sprinkles on the balls, or leave them plain. like Grandma Lorraine. Or, you can make some of each of the pops and balls, like I did.  Whether you make pops or balls, these little gems, are so good with all that peanut butter confection, covered in chocolate, and they are made with love. These treats would be perfect for any chocolate peanut lover for Valentine's Day!! Enjoy!

I found out that there is a learning curve  to making "pops", because some of them looked like "alien pops", but they tasted so good. I also had trouble getting the chocolate smooth, even though I thinned it out a bit.  I will be consulting with Grandma Lorraine soon:)

Mom Camille, Cherise, and Grandma Lorraine
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls Adapted from Grandma Lorraine


2 c. creamy peanut butter, not natural style
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c butter, 1 stick
3 c Krispy rice

Combine all of the above ingredients, and form into small balls.  I used my 1 1/2” cookie scoop, because I was making the pops, first. If you are just making the balls, they could be made in 1 “balls.   Refrigerate for 1 hour, or freeze for 15 min, if making the pops on a cookie sheet, covered with wax paper.

To assemble pops or coat the Peanut Butter Balls with Chocolate

Semisweet Chocolate around 16 oz or 12 oz. of chocolate candy melts
Canola oil, to thin, if needed
25-30 Lollipop sticks, I used 6”
Sprinkles of your choice

  1. 1. Leave or pops in freezer, while melting the chocolate.
  2.  Over double boiler or microwave in 30 sec intervals, melt chocolate or candy melts, stirring until all the lumps are gone.  Stir in canola oil to thin, if needed.
  3. Pour melted chocolate in a deep bowl or glass measuring cup.
  4. Take pops from the freezer.  Dip one end of the lollipop stick in chocolate and stick it in straight down the pop.
  5. Holding the lollipop stick, hold the pop upside down, and dip in the chocolate, twirling pop, until evenly coated. Holding pop over another cup, add sprinkles of your choice.
  6. Place in small glass to dry or place in a styrofoam block.
  7. Store covered in refrigerator, until ready to serve.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
  1. Leave balls in refrigerator, while you are melting chocolate.
  2. Over double boiler or microwave in 30 sec. intervals, melt chocolate or candy melts, stirring until all lumps are melted.  Stir in Canola oil, if needed to thin.
  3. Pour melted chocolate or candy melts into a deep bowl or cup, and drop the balls in the chocolate, turning with two forks or a spoon to coat evenly.
  4. Place on wax paper coated cookie sheet. Add sprinkles if deisred, and  refrigerate.
I am linking this recipe to Weekend Potluck @The Country Cook with Brandie.  Stop by and say Hi! to Brandie, and link up your recipe,

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chinese Stir Fry with Shrimp, Sort of!

 We made this Chinese Stir Fry with Shrimp for Chinese New Year.   I got a little carried away with all of veggies, when I was shopping.  All of the veggies look so good, so I put red, yellow, and green peppers, broccoli, pea pods, bean sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, and baby bok choy, plus the shrimp. Stir Fry is so healthy, because you use very little oil, and there are so many veggies. I try to make the sauce healthy and low sodium, if possible. The sauce is really Fusion inspired.   We used low sodium soy sauce, low sodium Teriyaki  sauce,  low sodium chicken broth, and then for a little sweetness and heat  I added about 1 tbsp of Peach Salsa from TJ, which is low calorie and low sodium. Try it! The sauce is so good.  The traditional oyster and hoisin sauces are really high in sodium.  That's one reason that since my hubby's bypass, we don't eat Chinese take out food or go to Chinese restaurants.  We just make it at home. Our stir fry is so fresh, the veggies are crunchy, and the sauce has just a little sweetness to balance the salty soy and Teriyaki sauces, with a little bit of heat.  If you want more heat, you can add red chili flakes.  Enjoy!

We try to make these often, because they are an easy dinner,  The longest part of the dinner is the chopping of the veggies, but that's why I have a sous chef, Thank you Sweetie.  Next time, however we will have to chop bigger chunks for the veggies though:)
The sizes of the veggies in my recipe are for the larger size, not the size in my photos.

 Chinese Stir Fry with Shrimp

1/2 lb raw shrimp, deveined, tail off and defrosted, if using frozen
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion chopped in 2" pieces
2 cloves, garlic, minced
1 medium red pepper, cleaned, seeded, and chopped in  1 1/2 " chunks
1 medium green pepper, cleaned, seeded, and chopped in 1 1/2" chunks
1 medium yellow pepper, cleaned, seeded, and chopped in 1 1/2" chunks
1/2 lb broccoli florets
1/2 lb pea pods
1/4 lb bean sprouts
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/4 lb carrots, cut in 1" chunks
1/4 lb Baby bok choy, cut in 1 1/2" chunks
*You can use any stir fry veggies of your choice, more or less, it's up to you.

Stir Fry Sauce
1 Tbsp low sodium Soy Sauce
1Tbsp low sodium Teriyaki Sauce
1/4-1/2 c low sodium  chicken broth
1 Tbsp Peach Sala from Trader Joe's
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 c. cold water


First defrost shrimp, if needed.  You have to have all of the ingredients chopped and ready to go, because stir fry cooks fast, especially with the shrimp.

Chop all stir fry veggies, before if  needed. Heat wok or large frying pan over high heat add onion and garlic, stir fry for 1 min, Add the rest of the veggies and stir fry for 4-5, just until crunchy.  If you like your veggies less crunchy, put the lid on and steam for about 2 more minutes.  You don't want mushy veggies.

Now make your sauce.  Add soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, chicken broth, and peach salsa to the pan. Then, mix corn starch and cold water together, Add to wok and mix through.  Cook until sauce is thickened. Add shrimp and cook until pink, curled up,  2-3 min. Don't over cook your shrimp, or they will be rubbery and tough.  Serve over rice, if desired.  We made brown rice, Yum!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Linguine with Sunday Gravy

My husband I love Italian food of any kind or sauce.  We even make our own sauce with fresh tomatoes. Now neither of us had one drop of Italian blood in us. I'm English, German, and Dutch, with little Irish, and my hubby is Irish and Scottish. so we had never made Sunday Gravy.  In the Chicago area and on the East coast, sauce with just tomato and basil is just sauce.  Gravy is when you add Italian sausage and meatballs, which are cooked for hours on the stove top, and typically made on Sunday with whole family coming over. My hubby found this recipe  for Sunday Gravy and wanted to make it , when his daughter and her husband were coming over, even though there would only be four people eating.  We love leftovers, and we could freeze some for later.

The gravy turned out so well, so thick and hearty, with the sausage meatballs, tomatoes and herbs, cooked for hours into the best sauce that I have ever tasted,.  Your kitchen smells amazing the with all the herbs spices in the sauce wafting through your kitchen. Now, this is not low calorie, low fat, or low sodium at all.  However, this a day for all things in moderation. You can have a meal like this one, and still maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Just don't eat this everyday:)  My hubby even made the meatballs out of ground sirloin, and we used no salt tomatoes, and added no additional salt, but the sodium  is still way up there, due to the Italian Sausage,  The gravy is out of this world.  Do you make sauce or gravy?

Scott made his meatballs, which are wonderful!!!  We like golf ball sized meatballs, rather that tennis ball sized meatballs. How do you like your meatballs. You are going to absolutely love this sauce, unless you have a family recipe. Enjoy!

Linguine with Sunday Gravy and Scott’s Meatballs

Adapted from

Olive oil 2 Tbsp
1 lb sweet Italian sausage links, cut in 2: chunks

In Dutch oven, lightly brown sausage chunks in olive oil, and set aside.

 Scott’s Meatballs

1lb ground beef 96/4 ground sirloin
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3/4 c breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c olive oil, if needed

Saute onions and garlic until soft, in oil left in Dutch oven, adding more if needed.  Transfer to large bowl leaving oil in pan. Add remaining ingredients to onion mix in bowl.  Mix well.  Form into 1 1/2 “ balls. Lightly brown meatballs, not cooked through, and add to gravy.

Ingredients for Gravy:

 3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp Basil or 2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil
5 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tsp oregano or 2 Tbsp fresh Oregano
2 (28-oz) cans plum tomatoes
2 28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 c water
1 cup dry red wine
4 tsp of sugar or to taste
1 lb sweet Italian Sausage (see above)
1 lb meatballs (see above)

Directions for Gravy:
1. Heat oil in a large ­stockpot for 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp basil, garlic, and oregano. Sauté for 1 minute.

2. Add tomatoes, water, wine and sugar. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and add sausage and meatballs.

3.Simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring ­occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the pot. Remove meats to a platter. Stir in remaining basil. Taste and add salt, if needed.

4. Serve over pasta of your choice.

  I am linking the recipe to Brandie's Weekend Potluck@The Country Cook.  Hop on over there and check it out~  So much fun!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Orange Yogurt Cake with Olive Oil

 When winter has arrived full force, or you just like the orange flavor in a cake, you have to make this cake. This cake has a bright burst of orange flavor from orange juice and zest, plus Blood Orange Greek Yogurt.  (Honestly, you could just use plain Greek yogurt, because the Blood Orange Greek yogurt, didn't add that much flavor.)  This is a Cooking Light recipe that I adapted,  and  is wonderful cake that has olive oil in it. The recipe also called for saffron, which I didn't have. With all of the orange flavors, I don' think that you would taste the saffron anyway. The cake is dense and moist with a great orange flavor. After the cake is baked and  cooled, you make a glaze of orange marmalade, and Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, which is heated and poured over the cake. Wow!  The orange flavor just jumps out.  It is so good! Garnish with any fresh fruit that you like or is in season.

Orange Yogurt Cake with Olive Oil Adapted from Cooking Light
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (I used  Simply Orange Juice)
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed saffron threads, optional I didn’t use
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • zest of 1 orange
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons sweet orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur I used Triple Sec
Preheat oven to 350°.

*If you aren’t using the saffron, just add the unheated orange juice with the olive oil and orange zest.

Place the juice in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in saffron, if used. Let stand 10 minutes.

Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Set aside.

Place sugar, egg, and egg white in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add yogurt, beating well. *Gradually add olive oil, orange juice, and zest, beating until well blended. Add half of flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat just until blended. Repeat procedure with the remaining flour mixture.

Spoon batter into a 9-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Place cake on a serving platter. Combine marmalade and liqueur in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Spread marmalade mixture evenly over top of cake, allowing excess to drizzle down sides of cake. Garnish with any fresh fruit in season.

I am limking this recipe to Akheela@ Torview's Tea Time Snack Event-

I am alsolinking the recipe to Brandie's Weekend Potluck@The Country Cook.  Hop on over there and check it out~  So much fun!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Turkey, Kale, and Brown Rice Soup

We are definitely having soup weather here in the Chicago burbs now, with temps hovering around zero with-20 degree wind chills, and snowstorm for tonight.  I first saw this soup on At Home with Giada, and knew that I wanted to make it.  The soup was so colorful with carrots, red peppers, tomatoes and kale, besides being healthy with ground turkey and brown rice. I could just smell it cooking already.

I had never eaten kale, but have seen several recipes around the blogosphere, and was ready to try it. Kale is a form of cabbage and very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, and reasonably rich in calcium. The kale made this soup even more colorful, and has a good flavor.  It doesn't taste like cabbage, and has a crunchy texture. My husband doesn't liked cooked spinach, but he loved the kale. This soup is perfect for a  bone-chilling day and will warm you through and through. You can easily make this vegetarian by omitting the ground turkey and using vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.
To make the soup you saute the carrots, onions, and red  peppers in a large soup pot. I bought the little mini peppers, so I added the yellow peppers as well.  Then you add the ground turkey, saute with the veggies, until the turkey is light brown.  Add in chicken stock, canned tomatoes, cooked brown rice, and  Herbes de Provence. I cooked the brown rice the night before to save time.  You could also use leftover cooked brown rice, if you happen to have some.  I also added about 1 cup of dry white wine. Bring to a boil, and add the kale at the end.  Let the soup simmer until the kale is still a little crunchy, or longer if you like it less crunchy. Cooking the kale longer, will diminish the nutritional values, however. You can also serve this with grated Parmesan cheese on top, which is what my husband did.

This soup does not disappoint. You have to make this soup to warm your body and soul, and because it tastes so good, and so good for you.  If someone in your family doesn't like kale, just make the pieces large enough, so they can pick them out, just sayin'.  Enjoy and stay warm! You might be seeing a re-appearance of Bailey the Snow Dog, soon:)

Turkey, Kale, and Brown Rice Soup
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium size onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 16 ounces ground white turkey meat, broken into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, no salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (I cooked mine the night before)
  • 1 small bunch kale, coarsely chopped (about 4 packed cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt ( I omitted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 11/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and bell pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to brown and soften slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ground turkey and stir until the meat turns white and begins to color very slightly around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the herbes de Provence and stir, 1 minute. Add 4 cups broth, tomatoes, wine, and rice. Bring to a boil. Stir in the kale and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and the freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan, if using, and serve. 

I am linking up this recipe to Weekend Potluck, formerly Foodie Friday!  Go Check it out at The Country Cook, and say Hi to Brandie

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

I saw butterscotch chips on sale at the grocery store the other day, and bought them. I hadn't used these in years. I wanted to make cookies to use my new cookie scoop, that I got with one of the gift cards that I got for Christmas. If you are a Foodie, what do you get for Christmas?  That's right more Foodie Stuff. I'm in heaven!
I got more cupcake wrappers, sprinkles, cupcake sleds, baking mat,  stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, and a cookie scoop.  My old cookie scoop broke. I'm in heaven!

Now back to the cookies.  I knew that I had the butterscotch chips, so I added semi sweet chocolate chips, too.  Usually when I make chocolate chip cookies I add a little  oatmeal.   This time I added about 1 cup, which changed the texture too much.  Next time, I might only add 1/2 c oatmeal.  I just wanted to make the cookies a little healthier.   I was taking some of these cookies to my friend whose Father passed away last week, and she has two little kids. My Husband loved them anyway.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies Adapted from
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 -1 cup rolled oats (optional)
Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract. 

Stir flour mixture into the creamed mixture Fold in oatmeal. Then fold in butterscotch chips, and chocolate chips. Chill dough for 2 hours.(optional.)

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly.

Bake at 375° for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool in pan for a minute then move to rack to cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
Now, I'm passing along this beautiful award that I received from my sweet blogger friend  Elisabeth@ Food and Thrift  Thank you Elisabeth. I am passing this award on to  to these inspirational bloggers who are dear blogging friends, and whose blogs I admire.
All you have to do is copy and paste this award on your blog, mention who it came from, and pay it forward to 6-10 blogger friends of your choice, if you wish. Thank you to all of you.

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