It’s Not Just For Christmas Fudge

(I am reposting this from a few years ago, still LOVE this fudge!)

I used to make this recipe for fudge quite a bit for the holidays when I worked at WLNY in New York. I remember CJ asking for it quite a bit! It’s simple and pretty fool-proof. I could eat the whole pan if it were left in my vicinity! Fudge is good anytime of year not just at the holidays so make a batch today and take a break from the diet. If you are allergic to nuts, leave them out. Have fun!

INGREDIENTS:

3 (6 oz.) packages semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 cup chopped walnuts (or other favorite nut)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Line an 8″ square baking pan with waxed paper or aluminum foil.

2. In a heavy two-quart saucepan, combine chocolate chips, condensed milk and salt.

3. Cook over low heat until chips melt. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts and vanilla.

4. Spread mixture evenly into lined pan. Refrigerate for two hours or until firm. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Makes 36 pieces

Popcorn Bars

This is a repost from 5 years ago! Wow time flies! Still loved making these and they were oh so good!!

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Popcorn, popcorn, popcorn! I LOVE popcorn. If there was a popcorn diet I’d be on it for sure. The smell of freshly popped buttery goodness has to be the best smell in the world. I can’t walk past a movie theater without taking a huge deep inhaling breath! Aaahhh….The only type of popcorn I don’t usually like is popcorn balls. I don’t know why but for some reason they just don’t appeal to me at all. But these popcorn bars are something entirely different. They have salty peanuts, pretzels chocolate chips and candy! What’s not to like!  The candy coated pieces can be in red and green for Christmas! Kids large and small will love them! I know I do!

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 package microwave popcorn, popped (about 9-10 cups)

1 cup salted peanuts

1 cup coarsely crumbled pretzels

1 cup light corn syrup

¼ cup butter or margarine

1 package (11 ounces) butterscotch OR white chocolate chips

1 cup candy coated chocolate pieces (like M&Ms)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Add the popcorn, peanuts and pretzels.


2. Cook the corn syrup and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a full boil for 1 minute.


3. Remove from the heat and add butterscotch chips, stirring until melted. Pour over popcorn mixture and mix well. Stir in candy coated chocolate pieces.


4. Press into a greased 13×9-inch pan. Cool at least one hour. Cool in the refrigerator also. It makes cutting them into bars much easier. Cut into bars.


Makes about 24 bars

Banana Pumpkin Pancakes

I originally found this recipe in Cooking Light Magazine but it was just for banana pancakes. I kicked it up a few notches and made it mine! They are not your normal run of the mill pancakes, they’re a bit more on the rich and custard side but so good, and filling! Loaded with protein also, and when you add the pumpkin more fiber! Easy to make and super easy to eat! I’m not normally a breakfast person but these pancakes are a hit. You can add other items or topper to them but we just added butter and syrup. I also of course forgot to take pics so these are generic pancakes. Similar to the size of what I made. This recipe made about 10 pancakes.

pancakes

Ingredients:

3 medium ripe bananas (we had so many bananas in the freezer that had just gotten too ripe and they worked perfect in this recipe. Just make sure they’re thawed out before using)

6 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

½-¾ cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1.  Mash the bananas with a fork until smooth. Add the pumpkin, flour, pumpkin pie spice and eggs, whisk well.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, or an electric skillet. I used a rectangular electric skillet so I could make more at once.
  3. Spoon/pour batter onto hot skillet into medium size pancakes. Cook 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges are cooked.
  4. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook another 1-2 minutes until done. They will be a little thicker than normal pancakes and this is fine. They’re kinda like french toast pancakes.
  5. Serve hot with your favorite topping!

Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

I have now made this dip twice. It is beyond incredible! Creamy, garlicky, cheesy, rich and loaded with shrimp. If there is anything left over you can use it as a topping on baked fish as well, which I did! Still incredible. If you don’t like shrimp or garlic stay away. Once you start eating this you can’t stop either so be prepared. The first time I made it we had a friend over for cocktails and snacks, this friend is a chef by the way. He was blown away by it. So it’s officially my new dip. It is best served with tortilla chips or pita chips. Even thin crostini would be great or crackers. I used greek yogurt cream cheese the first time I made it. It’s a mix of greek yogurt with cream cheese and less calories than regular cream cheese. But it’s just as good with regular cream cheese which I used the 2nd time. The recipe also calls for a shallot, which I didn’t have the first time I made it so I used 1/2 of a vidalia sweet onion. I also used light mayonnaise but feel free to use regular.

Give this recipe a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

INGREDIENTS:

1 8 oz. package cream cheese of choice (cut up into cubes)

10-12 oz. medium cooked shrimp, chopped into chunks. (2-3 chunks per shrimp)

2 cups fresh spinach leaves roughly chopped

2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (feel free to use more cheese also)

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon minced garlic (more if you like a lot of garlic!)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Basil leaf for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet, melt the butter at medium-high heat. Toss in the shrimp, spinach, shallot and garlic.

Stir gently until the shallot is translucent and the spinach is wilted. This should take about 5 minutes, making sure all the ingredients are heated through.

Remove from the heat and add in the lemon juice.

Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese and the cream cheese and mix well.

Put mixture into a baking dish large enough to hold it all. 8×8 or larger. Anything is good as long as it’s large enough to hold it all. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan cheese on top and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Top should be lightly browned and bubbling.

Garnish with a basil leave. Serve hot/warm!

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Refreshing Cucumber Salsa

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I received this recipe in my email this weekend and just had to try it out. It was originally from a Taste of Home reader from North Dakota (Crisp Cucumber Salsa) and the only thing I changed was the type of cucumber. I used the english/hothouse cucumber and didn’t peel it. The original recipe called for peeling the cucumber, which I would only do if I used a regular variety. The english style holds up better and stays firmer.

I made the recipe for a couple of friends and it was a huge success. So easy and healthy as well! The original recipe called for serving immediately but I think letting it chill for a bit would be better. I will definitely be making this quite a bit this summer!

A refreshing, light, crunchy salsa/relish. It would easily go on burgers, hot dogs, chicken or fish as well! I might even try using greek yogurt instead of the sour cream next time! If anyone tries it that way let me know!

Ingredients:

2 cups finely chopped, seeded cucumber (I used english cucumber)

1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato (1 medium plum tomato)

1/4 cup chopped red onion

2 TBS minced fresh parsley

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup light sour cream

1-1/2 tsp lemon juice

1-1/2 tsp lime juice

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp seasoned salt

Baked tortilla chip scoops

Instructions:

1: In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, jalapeño pepper, cilantro and garlic.

2: in a small bowl add the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and seasoned salt.

3: Pour creamy mixture over the cucumber mixture and mix gently. Coating all ingredients.

4: It can be served immediately but is better chilled for about 15-30 minutes before serving. Stir before serving.

Calories: 16 per 1/4 cup (without chips)

Fat: 1g

Sodium: 44mg

Carbs: 2g

Protein: 1g

Strufoli (Italian honey balls)

 This is a reposting of a previous blog from last year! Still a timeless treat no matter what the holiday is, and this time it’s for Easter! So give them a try! They are not hard to make, honest!!

This is a recipe that my grandmother (Nana) used to make for us years ago, usually around Easter. Though they are good at any time of the year for any occasion. The first time I made these it took me forever to roll each little ball. Then I talked to my Italian Aunt Rosie about making them and she laughed when I told her I rolled each little ball individually. She said that took way too long! She told me to roll the dough into long strips like giant pretzel rods and just cut them! Simple! These little honey balls are really good and bring back so many childhood memories. They stay fresh for a very long time and you can even freeze them for another time! (Without the honey of course!) They really are simple to make and always a hit.

Strufoli (Honey Balls)

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

2½ cups flour

½ cup honey

vegetable oil

colored nonpareil (confetti)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and butter. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. The last ½ cup of flour can be added if necessary to make a smooth dough. Let dough stay in bowl, covered with a dish, for ½ hour.

2. Roll out portions of dough. Cut dough into strips, rounded like pretzels, then cut into ½-inch pieces.

3. Heat about 2½ inches of oil in the bottom of a pan or deep fryer. Fry the pieces of dough, a handful at a time. If you can do this in a frying basket, it will be easier to take them out. Place pieces on paper towels to drain.

4. Heat honey until just under the boiling point. Place strufoli in a bowl and drizzle honey over them, gently tossing. Arrange on a large platter and sprinkle with the nonpareil (confetti). You can shape into a mound on a large flat dish or into a wreath.


Makes about 150 little strufoli

Slow Cooker Cheesy Enchilada Soup

I keep talking the talk about my slow cooker but I hardly use it. So this past weekend I finally did.

Though I have to remember to start it early in the day, not at the end of the day. Either way, we had this soup twice during the week. It was delicious! So simple too.

I got the recipe from a fellow blogger Reeni. She has a great blog and I make quite a few of her recipes. Check out the original recipe at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.  I changed a few things but it still came out awesome.

I can’t wait to make it again when the weather here in Florida finally cools down for more than a day. Don’t be afraid of your slow cooker. I honestly use to only use it to warm wine for Mulled Wine!  But I’m experimenting more and plan on using it more and more. And this recipe is pretty healthy for you as well! Lots of fiber and protein! 

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large sweet or Vidalia onion, diced

1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (11 ounce) Rotel diced tomatoes & green chiles

4 cups low-sodium/low-fat chicken broth

1 ¼ pounds boneless chicken breasts

2 cups corn (15-16 ounce can is good)

1 can black beans (15 ounces or so)

1 tablespoon chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon oregano

2 cups shredded cheese of choice (I used Great Value’s Fiesta Mix)

1 cup light sour cream, plus more for serving

sliced avocado for garnish (this is delicious by the way, I was skeptical at first but happy with the results!)

Tortilla chips for serving if desired.

Coarse salt and pepper 

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a medium skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and garlic. Season with salt/pepper. Cook this until everything is softened, about 10-15 minutes.

2. While that is softening add to the crock-pot the Rotel tomatoes, chicken broth, chicken, corn, black beans, chile powder, cumin, oregano and 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher is good) and about ½ teaspoon of black pepper.

3. When the onions, garlic and peppers are softened add to the crock-pot and mix it all up thoroughly. Cook on high for 3-4 hours (this is what I did because I started late in the day) or 5-6 on low. Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board and shred or cut into small pieces. I shredded mine. Add the sour cream and cheese to the pot and mix well. Add the chicken back to the pot. Cook 1 more hour on low heat.

4. Serve same day or next day. We had it the next night and it really gave the flavors time to grow. Garnish with more cheese, sour cream and avocado, or chips. 

Leftovers are even better! Love this soup!