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Fresh Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Sugar Chips – a Favorite!

25 Jul Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Sugar Chips

What is more refreshing than a bounty of fresh, ripe fruit?  Summer season brings out the best in berries and fruits that we all love to enjoy both at home and outdoors.  I’ve been pairing fruit with everything under the sun, but one of our all time favorite ways to eat fruit is in a refreshingly sweet fruit salsa.  It is amazing how many various fruits (nutrients and fiber!) my kids will devour in one sitting when I serve up a cold fruit salsa.  Take it up a notch by pairing said fruit salsa with homemade cinnamon sugar chips.  So easy, crazy good, and the chips stay crispy forever!

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Sugar Chips

Sweet, refreshing fruit salsa… let your creativity soar!

This fruit salsa is really great with whatever fruits you wish to use.  I really think there is no way it will  not turn out good for anyone who tries this!  You will truly love this one.

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Sugar Chips

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Sugar Chips – the fruit marries perfectly with crispy sweet chips.

There are many variations of this fruit salsa; I do change up my fruit choices occasionally depending on what catches my eye at the market.  Fruit salsa tastes amazing with these sweet cinnamon sugar chips.  You won’t want to buy cinnamon chips anymore once you make these yourself.  Seriously.  Cinnamon sugar chips are simple to make and they deliciously crunchy for days… if you can keep them around that long!

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Sugar Chips

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Sugar Chips – feel good about indulging!

This is one of those snacks/treats/desserts/goodies that is both yummy and healthy enough to indulge in without guilt!  Whole wheat tortillas can easily be used for the chips to bump up its good-for-you status.

RECIPE (10+ servings)

INGREDIENTS (use fresh fruit only)

For the Fruit Salsa:
3 kiwi, peeled and diced
2 crisp Fuji apples, peeled and diced, sprinkled with lemon juice
1 cup diced pineapple
1 lb strawberries
1 peach, peeled and diced
3 TB strawberry or raspberry preserves
Optional 1-2 TB sugar, if needed

For the Cinnamon Sugar Chips:
10 flour tortillas (10 inch)
1 cup white sugar
2-3 tsp cinnamon (start with 2 tsp, and increase if desired)
cooking spray oil (canola or butter)

DIRECTIONS:

In large bowl, gently mix all fruit together.  Make sure your apples are sprinkled nicely with lemon juice to prevent browning.  Add fruit preserves.  Taste and see if you need sugar at this point.  If your fruit and preserves are very sweet, you may not need sugar.  If desired, add 1-2 TB sugar and gently mix well.

Cover fruit salsa and chill in fridge until serving.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lay tortillas flat and cut into wedges.  You can do 2-3 at a time.  Generously spray a large cookie sheet with oil.  Place tortilla wedges in single layer, about 1/2 inch apart.  Generously spray oil on top of these wedges.  Generously sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the oiled tortilla wedges.  Spray over sugared wedges one more time.  Place in oven to bake 15-16 minutes on middle-top rack.  Remove to cool.  Repeat until all tortilla wedges are done.   Chips can be made several hours ahead of time.

Serve chips alongside chilled fruit salsa!  Enjoy every bite!

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes

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Brownie Peanut Butter Cups, Gooey and Chewy

24 Jul Brownie Peanut Butter Cups

I have been searching for a home-made brownie with a twist.  Don’t get me wrong; Ghirardelli boxed brownies are a favorite in our dessert diet.  In fact, I have a happy box waiting in my pantry now.  But switching things once in awhile is fun.  If you’re reading this, you are probably a fan of the unparalleled chocolate + peanut butter combo.  Reese’s PB Cups are the one candy I cannot safely keep in my house.  I sometimes just buy them during Halloween, but only for the trick or treaters.

So, I’ve been shopping around for a home-made brownie recipe with peanut butter involved.  This is the result:

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups

Brownie Peanut Butter goodness

Wowzers, this was rich and creamy and gooey and… perfect partner to a glass of cold milk!

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups – eat ’em today!

This brownie has a soft, rich interior and a moist, chewy exterior.  I must say these brownies are best eaten the same day.  I know it’s hard to imagine eating them the day you make them, but really… if you want the most chewyness and moistness, serve them while still slightly warm.  These babies will tend to get a crisper exterior the next day.  Um, they might not stick around that long anyways.

Brownie Peanut Butter cups

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups – got milk?

The recipes I found used both semi sweet and peanut butter chips sprinkled on top after baking.  Because of the richness of peanut butter and chocolate in this recipe, I used only semi sweet chips on the brownies to sprinkle on after baking.  Loads of peanut butter chips are already baked into the brownie, giving it lots of peanutty flavor.  However you choose to do it, your sweet tooth will undoubtedly be satisfied.

Brownie peanut Butter cups

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups – So hungry now.

Enjoy your chocolate + peanut butter fix.

RECIPE (12 brownies)

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup regular butter, softened
1 TB water
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, for melting
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, for garnish
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350F.  Line muffin pan with liners.  Spray liners with oil.

In large glass bowl, combine sugar, butter, and water, and microwave until butter is melted (about 1 min).
Stir in 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips until melted.  Mix in egg and vanilla extract.

In separate bowl, mix flour and baking soda to combine.  Add flour mixture to melted chocolate mixture, stirring until blended.  Stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter chips and 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips.  Spoon batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into liners.

Bake 13 minutes, or until top looks set, but toothpick inserted in center comes out somewhat wet (it will set up once cooled.)  Place muffin pan on wire rack for 5-10 minutes, to allow centers to fall upon cooling.  If centers don’t fall, tap centers gently to make a hole.

While brownies are still hot, place peanut butter in microwave for 45 seconds and stir.  Spoon about a tablespoon of peanut butter into each brownie center.  Decorate with semi sweet chocolate chips.  Allow to set a little and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bake or Break and Very Best Baking

Perfect Homemade Pretzels, Soft and Chewy

17 Jul soft homemade pretzels

Dear Alton Brown,
Some people say they aren’t enthusiastic about food chemistry, science, or history.  Some say they don’t get all that stuff and, frankly, don’t really care.  I admit there have been moments during good ‘ol Good Eats that I’ve wandered off.  While not all food science is über captivating to me either, I must say that I am a fan of your recipes.  I really enjoy most of your recipes.  So here’s my shout out!

soft homemade pretzels

Soft Pretzels – perfect texture on the outside, soft and chewy inside

Take these soft pretzels.  Who would have thought I’d gift my friends with homemade pretzels?  I mean, these are a treat usually reserved for mall meanderings.  Until I stumbled upon this fab recipe.

soft homemade pretzels

perfect homemade pretzels, buttery and salted

OK, why not?  I am a sucker for carbs.  And, I was hosting bake club at my place soon, so I gave it a test run.  It was phenomenal.   Us Bake Club gals made a bunch of these chewy, dense snacks to dangle in front of our hungry hubbies and kids.

soft homemade pretzels

homemade pretzels in the making

The fun, funner, funnest part about eating soft pretzels is deciding how to eat them.  Buttered, salted, plain, spicy mustard, sweet mustard, cheese sauce, parmesan, cinnamon sugar… the possibilities are endless.  We devoured our pretzels lightly buttered, with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.  My kids stuffed themselves with cinnamon sugared ones.  Something for everyone.  Mmmmm!

soft homemade pretzels

chewy pretzels, just out of the oven

How will you eat your pretzels?

RECIPE (8)

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F)
2 TB white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
3/4 stick regular butter, melted
vegetable oil
2/3 cup baking soda, in 10 cups of water
2 egg yolks and 1 TB water, beaten together
Toppings:  coarse sea salt, butter, mustard, cheese, cinnamon sugar, parmesan, etc.

DIRECTIONS:
Combine first 4 ingredients in large bowl, mixing it in a little.  Let sit until mixture (yeast) foams.  Add flour and butter.  Mix until well combined (can use stand mixer; I mixed by hand).  Knead until dough is smooth and no longer sticks to bowl (about 5 min).  Put dough into well oiled bowl and turn dough so it is oiled on all surface areas.  Cover with damp towel and set in warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.  The actual time it takes to double depends, of course, on the temperature.  If the room is cool, I set my dough in the oven, with only the light turned on.  If you do that, just make sure you remove the dough before preheating oven!

Preheat oven to 450F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and spray with oil.
Bring baking soda/water mixture to a boil in large pan.

Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.  Roll out each one into a 1 1/2 – 2 ft rope.  Lightly oil working surface if needed.  Making a U-shape with rope, cross the ends over each other and form pretzel shape.  Press ends tightly in, so they don’t come apart while baking.

One at a time, carefully lift and place each pretzel into boiling water for just 30 seconds.  This gives it that wonderful outer texture.  Return to parchment-lined pan.  Brush tops of pretzels with egg/water mixture.  If desired, sprinkle lightly with coarse salt or your choice of topping.  Bake 9-10 min., or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and brush with butter (or not).  Cool on rack a few minutes before taking a bite.  And another.  And…

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Alton Brown

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Bon Bons

13 Jul Mint Chip Ice Cream Bon Bons

My last post featured our family recipe for homemade mint chip ice cream.  Before the fam could polish off the entire batch, I decided to put my speed skills to test and whip up a batch of Mint Chip Bon Bons.  True, these little guys require some quick juggling.  Oh, but they are adorable and so fun to pop into your mouth.

MInt Chip Ice Cream Bon Bon

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Meets Bon Bons!

I found a few great tips on how to quickly coat the ice cream balls from food plus words .  The more frozen solid your ice cream balls are prior to working in the melted chocolate, the easier it will be.  You will definitely want to make the ice cream balls the night before so they can set solidly overnight.

Mint Chip Ice Cream Bon Bons

Creamy, minty ice cream covered by rich chocolate coating

If you appreciate mint chip ice cream, you’ll adore these cute bon bons.  My favorite part is that they can be kept frozen for however long and easily brought out for an impressive sweet treat when friends come calling.  Make-ahead-so-you’re-not stressing-last-minute type of dessert.  I love it.

RECIPE (maybe 20-30 bon bons, depending on how big you make them)

INGREDIENTS
1.5 quart mint chip ice cream
1/2 – 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
sugar crystals for decoration

DIRECTIONS
Make mint chip ice cream a day or two beforehand, or buy a good carton of it (i.e., Dreyers/Edy’s).  Using firmly frozen ice cream, scoop ice cream into small balls and place onto parchment or wax lined plate.  You might have to put plate back in freezer here and there are you work, especially if your ice cream starts getting a bit soft.  Insert toothpick into each ice cream ball.   Leave all ice cream balls in freezer to firm up well overnight.

Melt chocolate and oil in a bowl over saucepan of simmering water, not allowing bowl to touch water.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and let cool off a bit, so it’s still melted but not hot.

Working quickly and with small batches at a time, hold each ice cream ball by toothpick and spoon melted chocolate all around it.  Set bon bon down on parchment/wax lined plate and remove toothpick.  Quickly sprinkle sugar crystals over top before chocolate firms up.  Repeat in batches until all bon bons are complete.  Freeze for a couple of hours, if you can wait that long!

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Double Chocolate Covered Strawberries

11 Jul Choclate Covered Strawberries

It’s wonderfully warm this summer, and that means one delicious thing for sure:  fresh summer fruits!  I’ve been diligently taking every opportunity to enjoy all the fresh fruits of the season.  The kids know what’s for dessert every night:  fruit!  We’ve been on a strawberry binge.  Farm fresh strawberries just can’t be beat.

Unless they are paired with chocolate.  Or double chocolate.

Choclate Covered Strawberries

Semi sweet chocolate and white chocolate over ripe strawberries

I take the pure, basic route with these goodies.  This is actually an adaption of Hubby’s perfectly cute tuxedo chocolate strawberries, which was the first treat he made for me when we started dating.  Why didn’t I take a photo of those way back then? 😉

So good and so simple – it takes just three ingredients you might already have in your kitchen.  The biggest challenge?  Trying not to keep “tasting” the chocolate, as if I don’t remember what chocolate tastes like.

RECIPE (serves many or only a few)

INGREDIENTS
1 lb fresh, ripe strawberries
10 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate
3-4 oz chopped white chocolate

DIRECTIONS
Wash and very gently dry the strawberries, keeping stems on.  Set aside to finish air drying.

Set dark chocolate in a glass or metal bowl, over saucepan of simmering water (bowl not touching water.)  Stir frequently until chocolate is smooth and just melted.  Don’t over cook, so the chocolate doesn’t seize up and thicken.  Remove from heat once melted.

Carefully dip each strawberry in dark chocolate, twisting to cover completely with chocolate.  Set on parchment or wax paper on platter and put berries in fridge to set (about 30 min.)

Repeat melting process for white chocolate.  Using fork or toothpick, drizzle white chocolate over cooled chocolate strawberries.  Return to fridge for at least an hour.

Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud