Monthly Archives: October 2015

5 Healthy Halloween Treats

With Halloween just around the corner, you may trying to do some last minute preparation for parties and/or trick-or-treaters, but if your health-conscious like us, you’re probably wondering how you can still make Halloween fun without adding to the millions of children who will be going home with tummy aches and tooth aches this Halloween. Fortunately, you’re not alone in wanting to keep Halloween a fun, yet healthy time of year. Plenty of other parents, teachers, and adults around the world have come together to make Halloween just a wee bit healthier. Check out these healthy Halloween treats to find ways to create delicious snacks without sacrificing health and wellness.

Jack-O’-Lantern Oranges
An adorable treat that is sure to have any child smiling, this delightful snack is stuffed with strawberry and banana fruits is a perfect gift for any child who comes knocking on your door.

Treat

Ingredients
Oranges
A small, sharp kitchen knife
Filling of choice: fruit salad, oatmeal, yogurt, chocolate mousse, sorbet, etc.

Instructions
Slice off the tops with a sharp knife or an Xacto, and cut around the insides. Remove the orange sections and reserve for fruit salad, homemade orange juice, or smoothies.

Cut out faces, treating the orange as if it were a real jack-o-lantern pumpkin

Fill with whatever you desire.

Recipe via Chocolate Covered Katie


Carrot Rice Ball Jack-O’-Lantern Bites
These cute little guys are healthy and fun. With kids expecting traditionally wrapped processed candy, these might just become their favorite item of choice.

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Ingredients
1 ½ cups medium or short grain rice
2 cups carrot juice
½ teaspoon salt
A handful of black olives, for garnish
A few green bean tops, for garnish

Instructions
Boil rice, carrot juice, water and salt for 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Let cool to room temperature.

To make jack o’ lanterns, form small balls (about 2 tablespoons each) out of rice, pressing firmly with hands. (Note: If rice sticks to hands, lightly sprinkle hands with water when rolling.)

To form eyes and mouths, cut black olives into shapes and press into the rice balls. To make stem, cut a small triangle of green bean and stick into rice ball on top.

Recipe via Apron Strings Blog


Banana Mummies
These little creatures are sure to have the kids spooked and smiling before you can say “don’t eat too many.” With such an easy recipe, it would be a shame not to try it out.

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Ingredients
3 large bananas
3 tablespoons gently melted, food grade cocoa butter
3 tablespoons powdered coconut sugar
Candy Eyes, “safe” chocolate chips, currants or raisins

Instructions
Peal the bananas and slice them into 1 ½ inch chunks. Skewer bananas with lollipop sticks (available at most craft stores), or use kabob skewers cut in half using wire cutters. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze.

For the candy coating: in a small bowl, mix the melted cocoa butter with powdered sugar.

Spoon a little drop of candy coating on a frozen banana and stick on an eye (or two, or three). Using a spoon, drizzle candy coating over the bananas in all directions, avoiding the eye(s).

An egg carton turned upside down with little holes poked in the bottom make a great stand for the finished product.

Recipe via Lexie’s Kitchen

Silly Apple Bites
These apple bites are yet another ultra creative endeavor that will not only have kids laughing, but have parents complimenting you, too. Halloween has never been so healthy or happy.

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Ingredients
2 green apples, each quartered
Peanut butter (can be substituted for sun butter, almond butter, etc.)
32 sunflower seeds
2-3 strawberries, sliced
googly eyes (can be store-bought or home-made)

Instructions
Cut the middle out of each quarter of the apple to create a moth. Don’t worry about perfection, you are filling this gap with peanut butter anyway so if you cut too deep, you can always just cover it up and one will know.

Coat the inside of the cut gap with a filling of peanut butter.

Place 4 sunflower seeds on the top of the “mouth” for the teeth.

Place 1 sliced strawberry inside the mouth for the tongue.

“Glue” each eye above the mouth with a dab of peanut butter to stick.

Recipe via Fork and Beans

Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats
While perhaps not the healthiest on the list, these rice krispie treats are still a great alternative to some of the other sugar-filled junk streaming the streets on Halloween night. Plus, the aesthetic value is something your kids just won’t be able to refuse.

Treat4Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
10 oz marshmallows
6 cups rice krispie cereal
10 drops yellow food coloring
10 drops blue food coloring
Melted chocolate/candy coating
Candy eyes

Instructions
Melt the butter in a large pot and add the marshmallows. Stir until they are melted!

Add in the food coloring and stir until it turns green.

Add rice krispie cereal a little at a time and stir to combine

Press rice krispie cereal into a buttered 9×13 pan. Press flat and let cool.

Let rice krispie treats sit for about 30 minutes

Remove from pan and cut into squares.

Melt chocolate according to package directions. Dip the tops of the rice krispie treats into th  melted chocolate.

Lay on a sheet of wax paper (or plate).

Use some of the melted chocolate “glue” on the candy eyes.

Fill a Ziplock bag with some of the melted chocolate, snip an end off and pipe a stitch mouth onto Frankenstein.

Let Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats sit for about 20 minutes undisturbed or until the chocolate has hardened.

Recipe via Big Bear’s Wife

 
We hope you like these kitchen recipes and find at least one of them to be a perfect solution to this year’s Halloween treats. It’s important to keep the kids healthy and to start good habits at a young age so they will take those habits with them into adulthood. Do you have any other fun and healthy recipe treats to share? Let us know in the comments below, and have a wonderful Halloween!

How to Handle Greasy Foods

While greasy foods can often be shamefully delicious, they also have the potential to cause a lot of problems, both for your health, and for your kitchen. Check out our infographic for more information on how to deal with greasy foods.

RangeHoodsInc - Top Greasy Foods

Grilled Appetizer Ideas

As your friends and family begin to gather for those holiday festivities, it’s a great opportunity for you to show off your cooking skills in the kitchen of your dreams. After all, truly the best kitchens are worth much more than their aesthetic appeal. A kitchen should be a place where you can release your inner chef, experiment with different recipes, try new things, and surprise your guests and have them asking for more. Appetizers can often be tricky to plan, and it can take some time and thought to make sure the appetizers are complementing your meal. With this in mind, we’ve collected a few recipes for grilled appetizers that are sure to complement a wide assortment of lunch and dinner meals.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp
It’s hard to go wrong with shrimp, and this spicy appetizer will have your dinner guests asking for seconds. The shrimp skewers are seasoned with a delicious chili paste and fish sauce to create a delectable, mouth-watering experience.

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Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
1 tablespoon Asian chili paste
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
Coarse salt

FOR THE SHRIMP
Safflower oil, for brushing
36 large shrimp (about 3 pounds), peeled and deveined (tails left intact; optional)
Coarse salt

Instructions

  1. Soak 12 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent charring.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Bring sugar and lime juice to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest, chili paste, and fish sauce. Season withsalt.
  3. Make the shrimp: Heat grill to high. Brush grates with oil. Thread 3 shrimp onto each skewer; season with Divide sauce in half; reserve half for serving. Grill shrimp for 1 minute; brush with sauce. Flip, and grill for 1 minute more; brush with sauce again. Flip, and grill, brushing occasionally with sauce, until opaque, 1 to 3 minutes more. Serve with reserved sauce.

Recipe via Martha Stewart

Grilled Italian Sausages and Tomatoes on Focaccia
A great recipe that diverts from the every-day appetizer style, these grilled Italian sausages on focaccia bread create a tangy delightful pre-meal snack.

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Ingredients
4 tomatoes (about 2 1/4 pounds total), halved crosswise
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
6 fresh sweet, spicy, or fennel Italian sausages
12 pieces focaccia (about 3 by 4 inches each)

Instructions

  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high (if you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 3 to 4 seconds). Season tomatoes with salt and pepper; drizzle with about 2 tablespoons oil. Grill tomatoes, cut side down, until marked by grill and beginning to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip tomatoes, and grill until soft and juicy, but still holding shape, 5 to 7 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board, and coarsely chop. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add oregano, and toss to combine. Season with salt, and drizzle with remaining oil; set aside.
  2. Grill sausages, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Cut each sausage in half lengthwise. Using a slotted spoon, divide tomatoes among focaccia; top each with a sausage half, arranging cut side down. Serve immediately.

Recipe via Martha Stewart

Asparagus Wrapped in Pancetta with Citronette
With so many national health problems related to a lack of exercise and proper eating habits, many people are becoming more health-conscious in the foods they intake. If you’re one of these people, consider this delicious grilled asparagus recipe for a great source of greens without sacrificing flavor.

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Ingredients
2 pounds large asparagus, 12 to 18 stalks per pound
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. Snap the tough bottom stalks off the asparagus. Unroll the slices of pancetta and lay them out on a work surface. Lay an asparagus spear on a slight diagonal across the bottom of one slice and roll it up, covering as much of the stalk as possible but leaving the tip visible (if you are using jumbo asparagus, you may have a few slices of pancetta left over for another dish). Place on a tray or small baking sheet and repeat with the remaining asparagus. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (this rest will help the pancetta adhere to the asparagus).
  2. Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, juice, and mustard. Continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  4. Place the asparagus on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until it is just tender and the pancetta is crisped, about 4 to 6 minutes. If the pancetta browns too much before the asparagus is cooked, move the spears to a cooler part of the grill.
  5. Whisk the citronette again, and pour half of it onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with half of the chopped thyme and pile the asparagus on top. Drizzle with the remaining citronette and sprinkle with the remaining thyme. Serve with a small bowl of coarse seasalt for dipping.

Recipe via Martha Stewart

These are just a few ideas to get you started in creating your list of holiday appetizers. As always, don’t forget to turn on your range hood when grilling or cooking to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe and breathing in pollution-free air. Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know how your appetizers turned out!

Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Germ-Free

If you like to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it’s important to make sure your kitchen remains clean and safe. If we’re not careful, kitchens can be one of the biggest sources of germs and bacteria, and can definitely contribute to making you and your family sick during the fall season, or any time of year. So, if you want to make sure that your kitchen is running at optimal capacity and stays germ-free, follow these few simple tips to keep your kitchen in tip-top shape.

Countertops & Surfaces
One of the easiest, yet most important aspects of a kitchen to look after is the countertops and other surfaces. Grease cooking, residue from food preparation, and crumbs from the dinner table all plague the countertops and other surface areas in the kitchen. One of the most important things you can do to keep your kitchen germ-free is to regularly clean the floors, countertops, cutting boards, stove tops, and any other surface areas in your kitchen space. Commercial disinfectants or household products should serve to cleanse the infected areas.

Cleaning

Photo Credit: countertopguides.com

Sink Faucet
Kitchen sink faucets are needed to provide a source of water for watching dirty pots and pans, but the residue from washing soiled dishware can often splash up and hit the faucet spout, causing mold and bacteria to grow in and around that area which is intended to clean other utensils. Consider cleaning your faucet spout with a disinfectant, or soaking it in diluted bleach water as often as possible.

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Photo Credit: homekeepingforall.blogspot.com

The Cutting Board
One of the biggest sources of germs in your kitchen is the cutting board. Cutting boards are porous, which means that they absorb even more germs and bacteria than the average surface area.  For optimal disinfecting, cutting boards can be cleaned by adding 1 teaspoon of bleach to 16 ounces of water, and then scrubbed with a sponge or washable cloth. Rinse the cutting board with hot soapy water, and it should be ready for the next use.

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Photo Credit: maccuttingboards.com

Paper Towels
One way to decrease the amount of germs in your kitchen is to swap out hand towels in exchange for disposable paper towels. Bacteria thrives in damp areas, and this is especially true of a hand towel that is used repeatedly without having time to thoroughly dry. Furthermore, kitchen hand towels are more likely to catch spillage from cooking and food preparation, which increases the level of contamination that they may hold.

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Photo Credit: handwashingforlifehealthcare.org

Sponges
Sponges are another area in which bacteria has the potential to fester.  While it may not be cost-effective to replace sponges as often as we might like, there are definitely ways to reduce the germs and odor that a kitchen sponge attracts. One way to kill bacteria is to soak the sponge in a bowl of hot water with one teaspoon of bleach. The sponge can also be placed in the dishwasher or zapped in the microwave for approximately one minute in order to rid it of any harmful bacteria.

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Photo Credit: homedit.com

 The Fridge
The fridge can be a big source of contamination if it is not regularly cleaned out and set to the ideal temperatures. Make a habit of cleaning out your refrigerator at least once a week and do not every keep food beyond its expiration date. Your fridge should always be set between 37 to 40 degrees.

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Photo Credit: wikihow.com

The Microwave
Just like the fridge, the microwave needs to be regularly cleaned from the inside out. Food particles often spray and splatter throughout the inside of the microwave, and if these particles are not cleaned, they provide a space for bacteria to grow and can then contaminate any other food going into the microwave. Microwave can be cleaned with hot soapy water or a commercial disinfectant.

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Photo Credit: goodhousekeeping.com

Automatic Soap Dispenser
If possible, consider investing in an automatic soap dispenser in order reduce the amount of germs and bacteria that are spread throughout the kitchen. Having an automatic soap dispenser means one less surface area that dirty hands can touch.

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Photo Credit: ecw.com

Hand Washing
Finally, as obvious as it may seem, one of the best ways to keep germs at bay is to have everyone in your household, including guests, wash their hands before and after eating, food preparation, or when switching from one activity to another. Keeping your hands clean helps to keep all other surface areas clean, and ultimately reduces the spread of germs.

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Photo Credit: thewannabescientist.com

These are just a few simple steps that you can take on a day-to-day basis to ensure that your kitchen stays as spotless and germ-free as possible. The kitchen can be a huge source of bacteria, but it doesn’t have to be. Keeping these suggestions in mind might just help your family stay well during this year’s flu season.

5 Fun Treats for Fall Festivities

As the fall season begins to make its way around, it’s the time where family and friends gather to enjoy one another’s company around the fireplace while drinking hot coco and enjoying some of the holidays’ richest treats. So, if you’re preparing to entertain a swarm of dinner guests, or perhaps you are the dinner guest, put in charge of dessert, and you’re wondering what would be appropriate to bring, here are a few fun recipes that won’t leave you trapped in the kitchen all day; but don’t blame us if your friends and family make you the permanent dessert person after you feature these special items at the next major gathering.

Salted Caramel Apple Tartlets
Always a holiday favorite, these salted caramel apple tartlets are a great way to have a sweet treat while still maintaining the apple for nutritional value.

Food

Ingredients

Pastry Dough
½ cup unsalted butter
1¾ cups pastry flour
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
Apple Filling
3-4 apples
3 tablespoons sugar
1 lemon, juiced
¾ cup salted caramel sauce

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract and mix well. Slowly add in the flour and mix until just combined.
  2. Roll the dough into a ball and place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten the ball into a disc, wrap with the plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm.
  3. When ready to use, unwrap your dough and place it on a floured surface. Roll the dough to a thickness of ⅛ inch. Using your tart tins as a guide, cut circles that are about 1 inch wider than the tins. I used a small mixing bowl to make the cut. Press the dough into your tart tin. Pass your rolling pin over the top of the tin to trim the extra dough. Alternatively, you can skip the rolling pin and simply press the dough into your tins (skip the fridge if using this method).
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the tart shells in the freezer for 15 minutes while your oven preheats. Using a fork, poke holes in bottom of the tart shells. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  5. Cut your apples in half lengthwise and remove the core. Using the thinnest setting of a mandolin, slice the apples and place in a microwave safe bowl.
  6. Combine the sugar and lemon juice, and pour over your apples. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to slightly soften the apples.
  7. Cover the bottoms of your tart shells with 1-2 tablespoons of the salted caramel and then begin to roll your apples. I started with one slice, and rolled it into a tight cylinder. I then took additional slices and continued wrapping them around each other until the bundle was about a quarter sized width. I then placed that into caramel coated tart and added more apples, layering the edges. The caramel helps hold the apples in place. Continue until your tart is fully covered.
  8. Return the tarts to the 350 degree oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the remaining salted caramel sauce.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.

Recipe via Platings and Parings

Candy Corn Cookies
It’s that time of year when candy corn begins to pop up everywhere, but what if instead of the traditional candy you had sugar cookies? This recipe is sure to have your guests asking for your secret

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Ingredients

1 batch sugar cookie dough
Yellow and orange food coloring
Optional: sanding sugar, course raw sugar, or sprinkles; almond bark or white chocolate (melted)

Instructions

  1. Divide prepared sugar cookie dough into three equal portions. Leave one as is and color one other portion yellow and another portion orange.
  2. Line a standard loaf pan with plastic wrap. Gently press layer of uncolored dough into bottom of pan and smooth flat, keeping it at least 1/2-3/4 inches high (you don’t have to use the whole pan if you have a small batch of dough) or larger if desired. Layer orange dough on top of previous layer and smooth. Finally layer yellow dough and smooth on top. Wrap plastic over dough and chill until firm, 30-60 minutes in freezer or 1-2 hours in fridge. Or you can store the dough in fridge for 2-3 days before baking.
  3. Remove plastic and slice loaf into 1/4 inch slices. Trim top of slice to make straight line. Cut each slice into triangle shape and dip top side in sugar if desired. Bake according to sugar cookie directions. Cool completely and then if desired, dip ends in almond bark or white chocolate and decorate with sprinkles.

Recipe via Our Best Bites

Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies
These delectable brown sugar cookies are the perfect dessert for any holiday season, and are simple and easy to make!

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Ingredients

Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup finely chopped pecans
36 pecan halves or chopped pecans, toasted, optional

Frosting
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup milk or cream
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

Instructions
Cookies:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
  2. Add in flour, baking soda, and salt beat until combined. Stir in chopped pecans.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes (or more).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Shape into 1″ balls (I used a 1 tbsp cookie scoop) and place a couple inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets or parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes or until set (not glossy at all in the middle) and lightly browned at the edges. Cool before frosting.

Frosting

  1. Combine brown sugar and milk in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
  2. Stir in 1½ cups powdered sugar and whisk or beat with a mixer until smooth. If frosting is too thin, add more sugar, but keep in mind it will firm up dramatically within a few minutes.
  3. Spread each cookie with about 1 tbsp frosting and top with a pecan or chopped pecans. Let frosting set before storing.

Recipe via The Recipe Rebel

Perfect Pumpkin Roll
The perfect pumpkin roll will have your home smelling like the holidays in no time. This recipe will not only fill your house with the delicious pumpkin spice aroma, but it will have your guests smiling from ear to ear.

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Ingredients

3 eggs, separate egg yolks and egg whites
1 cup sugar, divided in half
⅔ cup pumpkin puree, I use the canned kind
¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

Filling
8 oz. softened cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoon butter, softened
1½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a 15×10 inch baking pan with waxed paper. Grease and flour the pan and the top of the paper.
  3. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until think. Gradually add ½ cup sugar and the pumpkin. Beat mixture until the sugar is almost dissolved.
  4. In a smaller bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture.
  5. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread into pan.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for 13 to 15 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched. Cool 5 minutes and turn cake onto a kitchen towel sprinkled with powder sugar. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel starting with the shorter side. Cool completely before adding the filling.

Filling Directions

  1. In small bowl beat cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Unroll cake and spread filling.
  3. Roll up again and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
  4. Can be frozen- Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe via Chef in Training

Oreo Peppermint Bark
Peppermint is a holiday favorite that simply can’t be left out, and the best peppermint bark is usually homemade. This recipe is simple and convenient, allowing you to pop any leftovers into the fridge to save for the dinner party.

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Ingredients

10 mini candy canes, crushed (about 1/2 cup)
12 Oreos, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)
1 ½ cups white chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.
  2. Add milk chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread flat. Sprinkle with chopped Oreos. Chill for 10 minutes.
  3. Add white chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl and heat on 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Pour over Oreos and spread to the edges of the milk chocolate. Sprinkle with chopped candy canes. Chill until set, break into pieces and serve or package to give!

Recipe via A Southern Fairytale

These are just a few recipes for sweet treats that are perfect for the holiday season. Let us know if you have any alternative recipes, and be sure to let us know how it goes if you decide to make any of the above treats!

Easy & Delicious Pasta Recipes

Everyone loves pasta and what makes it even better is that it’s one of the easiest and simplest recipes to make.  Pasta dishes can easily become a luxurious dinner item with the addition of meats, veggies, and spices, or any other item you can add to spruce up the meal. So, whether you’ve had a long day and simply want something quick and easy to cook up, or you’re entertaining guests with a three course meal you spent all day slaving in the kitchen to prepare, check out these delicious pasta recipes to make your dining experience feel like a five-star restaurant.

Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta
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Photo Credit: cookingclassy.com

Add some nutritional value to your pasta with asparagus, and spice up the flavor with some crushed bacon flakes. A perfect way to add some flavor to every day noodles, this recipe is sure to have your guests inviting themselves back for more.

Ingredients
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded with mallet to even thickness
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sauce
12 oz penne pasta
1 lb asparagus, trimmed of ends, remaining diced into 2-inch pieces and steamed
1 1/2 Tbsp butte
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream or half and half
3 oz Neufchatel cheese (aka light cream cheese), diced into pieces
1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
4 – 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled into small pieces (optional)

Directions
In a small bowl, stir together basil, oregano, thyme and 1/4 salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the herb mixture evenly over tops of chicken. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken to skillet, herbed side down, then add remaining herb mixture to tops of chicken. Cook chicken until fully cooked through, about 8 – 12 minutes, occasionally rotating chicken (time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts. If chicken is browning too quickly reduce heat to medium low as needed). Transfer cooked chicken to a plate, let rest 5 minutes then dice into pieces.

Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions listed on package, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.

In a clean skillet (large and deep), melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer, stirring constantly. While whisking, slowly pour in milk then cream (whisk vigorously to break up clumps). Season with salt and pepper to taste (a fair amount of each) and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil and thickens, reduce heat to medium-low, add Neufchatel and parmesan cheese and cook, stirring frequently, until cheeses have melted.

Toss in cooked pasta, then add cooked chicken, steamed asparagus and bacon and toss to evenly coat. Add in reserved pasta water as desired (it will thicken as it rests and the pasta will absorb the liquids, so add up to 1/2 cup as needed). Serve immediately.

Recipe via Cooking Classy


Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

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Photo Credit: Gimmesomeoven.com

Great for the traditional pasta lovers of the world, this recipe only requires six ingredients and promises to warm your guests from head to toe on the coming winter evenings.

Ingredients
12 ounces of your favorite pasta
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
1 (25 ounce) jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and tomato sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.

Pour half of the pasta into a greased 11×7-inch or 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, half of the Parmesan cheese and half of the basil. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and sprinkle immediately with the remaining Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve warm.

Recipe via Gimme Some Oven


Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta with Baby Kale

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Photo Credit: Spoonfulofflavor.com

A tangy, creamy recipe, this is a must have for any standard recipe book. Even the kids will be asking for seconds!

Ingredients
1 pound chicken breast cut into one inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ½ cups uncooked penne pasta
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup water
3 heaping cups kale
4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons freshly squeeze lemon juice
Zest from one lemon

Directions

Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.

In a 12” pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and stir until soft, about 3 minutes. Add chicken to pan and cook until brown on both sides. Stir in garlic and cook one additional minute. Add uncooked pasta, chicken broth, water and baby kale. Stir then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 22 minutes. Uncover and cook until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 additional minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Recipe via Spoonful of Flavor

 

Saucy Creamy Mac and Cheese
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Photo Credit: recipetineats.com

You can’t talk about pasta without including the age-old classic of mac n’ cheese, and we’re not talking about ready-to-go box of mac and cheese. Check out this recipe for a delicious and easy mac and cheese dish that can be made all in one pot.

Ingredients
4 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp flour
3 cups of milk
2 cups of water
1 tsp of salt
Black pepper
½ lb of dried macaroni
2 cups grated tasty or cheddar cheese
1 cup grated provolone dolce cheese
Optional Toppings
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Melt the butter in a deep fry pan or skillet over medium heat.

Add the flour and stir until combined so a thick paste forms (“roux”). Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add half the milk and use a whisk to dissolve the roux into the milk. It will thicken quickly, then add the remaining milk. Whisk in small circles, rotating around the pan, to dissolve all the roux into the milk.

Add the water, salt and 5 grinds of pepper, then turn the heat up to medium high. Whisk leisurely so the bottom doesn’t stick to the pan. When the white sauce starts to steam and thickens such that you can see it coating the edges of the pan (around 2 to 3 minutes), add the macaroni.

Turn the heat down to medium and stir gently with a wooden spoon to mix the macaroni through and ensure the bottom doesn’t stick. Cook it for 1 minute. Be sure not to cook it for longer than this after adding the macaroni – this really impacts the “sauciness” of the dish and ensuring the macaroni isn’t overcooked.

Cover the fry pan then transfer it immediately to the oven on the middle shelf.

Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven. It will seem like there is too much sauce but it reduces and thickens in the next steps. The pasta should be just cooked (al dente). It will continue cooking from the residual heat.

Turn the oven off and turn the grill/broiler on high.

Stir through the cheese, just enough to disperse it through the macaroni. As you stir, this will melt the cheese and thicken the sauce. Don’t stir too much because otherwise the sauce will thicken too much due to the evaporation.

Sprinkle over the panko and parmesan cheese, then place under the grill/broiler for a few minutes to brown.

Remove from the grill/broiler and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

5 Quick and Easy Recipes for Fall

As we enter the Fall season, it’s time to exchange those fun outdoor barbeque feasts for those great smelling indoor kitchen meals that warm the heart and bring family and friends together in the upcoming holiday season. Yet, the one thing everyone regrets about delicious Fall cooking and baking is the need to loosen your belt one loop down. Often, it can take the entire following year to work off those few extra pounds, and those few extra slices of pie you didn’t think would hurt have hung on long enough to see the next holiday season coming in.  With this in mind, we’ve created a list of some delicious, hearty recipes that won’t completely break your diet and may even be beneficial to your health.

Blackened Salmon with Broccoli Rabe and Raisins
Add a bit of garlic and herb to your blackened salmon to make this one of the tastiest meals you’ve had all year. The salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your heart. It’s free of saturated fat, and it’s also a great source of protein. Check out the recipe here.

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Photo Credit: Health.com

Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges
Want the French fries without all that fat and cholesterol? These spicy sweet potato wedges are the perfect solution. Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C, and baking them rather than frying them makes them a delicious trade-in for French fries. Add a bit of your favorite hot sauce to the already-sweet flavor, and they might even be better than French fries!

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo Credit: Health.com

Chicken Avocado Burrito
One of our favorites, this recipe is great at any time of the year. Avocados are high in vitamins, folate, and potassium. They contain no cholesterol or sodium, and they are a great source of protein.  Chicken is also a great source of protein and considered a heart healthy food, which makes this meal perfect for the health-conscious.

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Photo Credit: omgchocolatedesserts.com

Four Cheese Margherita Pizza
This delicious creation is a bit of a splurge, but with a few twists, this pizza mirrors the real deal without nearly the fat content. With a pinch of olive oil, garlic, and some fresh Roma tomatoes, you can have a Friday night feast in as little as 40 minutes.

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Photo Credit: allrecipes.com

Black Bean Salad
Black bean salad is also a great recipe to fill up on while remaining healthy. Ad some corn, tomato slices, lettuce, onion, and/or avocado to give the salad additional flavor. You may also try adding a light, low-fat salad dressing such as a vinaigrette if you need some additional flavor to go along with your delicious bean salad meal.

Food5Photo Credit: communitymarket.org

These are just a few of our favorite Fall recipes, delicious without breaking the bank or adding on pounds. With your indoor cooking this season, don’t forget to turn on your range hood and make sure that your kitchen stays properly ventilated to keep your air safe and pure. Do you have any favorite seasonal or healthful meal recipes? Let us know in the comments below!