Oh how we LOVE Truffles!

 

What is not to love?  Isn’t she cute?

In all seriousness we do love truffles, the little chocolate ones, at least myself and Little Miss Mixture.  In fact I have created a very bad habit at a young age as Little Miss Mixture has a taste for good chocolate.  I truly think if you are going to indulge it should be worth it and in my opinion there is a difference in chocolates.  There are a number of good chocolates to be found and I am a dark chocolate person, and luckily there are a variety of price points that can satisfy this craving.

I enjoy semi sweet chocolate chips and a handful can brighten the day or simply satisfy that sweet craving at times.  Other times a more decadent form of dark chocolate is necessary.

I enjoy baking though I often have to find people to give the sweets to or have a reason to bake because I cannot just have them sitting around.  I have a hard time wasting food, so rather than waste I allow my waist to be impacted.

Friday is National Truffles Day and this week is Teacher Appreciation week at Little Miss Mixtures school.  Who does not enjoy homemade baked goods?  I decided to make this easy recipe to send to some of the teachers, assistant teachers, and administration.  I know at least a couple of them have a sweet tooth like myself.

Chocolate Truffles

12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup whipping cream

1 tsp  extract of your choice (orange, raspberry, peppermint, rum)*

Cocoa for dusting

In a glass bowl melt chocolate (you may use double boiler method or microwave).  I use the microwave for this recipe. Melt on high for 1 minute and stir.  Continue to microwave at 30 second intervals until almost melted then stir until smooth.  Gradually add the whipping cream stirring in well.  Whipping cream does not need to be cold as it will mix better if allowed to sit out for a few minutes.  Once mixed add extract of choice and continue to stir to ensure evenly distributed flavor and chocolate is smooth.  Place in refrigerator to firm up for about 20 -30 minutes.

Line a cookie sheet or container with parchment or wax paper.  Scoop chocolate and roll into small balls approximately 1 inch in diameter.  At this point I place the truffles in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes to firm back up.  Roll in cocoa to dust and serve immediately, store in airtight container lined with parchment or wax paper, or package as gifts.   Yields about 2 -2 1/2 dozen.

* I have used orange and peppermint                                                              *recipe adapted from Taste of Home

IMG_2561
Ready for the teachers

 

Just one more because we do love her!Truf.JPG

Turkey, Cheese & Spinach Quesadilla

Turkey, CHeese & Spinach Quesadilla

What do you have for lunch on the weekends?  

Looking for an easy dinner?

Have you ever noticed that foods do not come in the amount you need?

We do not eat a lot of packaged items, but I have not yet ventured into making my own soft shell tortillas as yet.  As a family of three we always seem to be left with an odd amount of items left over.  Maybe this does not happen in some families, but the few items we purchase like hamburger buns or tortilla shells leave me distraught.  I do not like to waste food and tortilla shells typically get used for quesadillas, but I found a package with three last week and was determined to use them rather than toss them.

I was inspired to make lunch on Saturday.  Truth is we did not have bread and there were no real leftovers, so I had to come up with another option as Little Miss Mixture and Mr. Mixture will quickly go for their old standby sandwiches Peanut Butter & Jelly for Mr. and Peanut Butter, Honey, & Raisin for Little Miss if I do not have a suggestions or plan. Thus I decided to make a lunch quesadilla.

Turkey Cheese & Spinach Quesadilla

1-2 Whole Wheat Tortilla Shell

1-2 slices Nitrate Free Roasted Turkey

Colby Jack or Munster Cheese

Handful of baby spinach, washed

Yellow Mustard

Olive Oil

In a skillet pour about 1 Tbsp of olive oil and heat.  Meanwhile prepare your quesadilla – Put a small amount of mustard on the tortilla shell and layer cheese, turkey, spinach, and slightly more cheese.  I find it sticks together best if there is cheese to hold it together on both sides.  Fold the tortilla shell in half, or top with another shell depending on how much you are making.

Turkey, CHeese & Spinach Quesadilla

Sauté on both sides until cheese is melted and tortilla shell is lightly golden.  Slice and Enjoy.

This proved to be a winning recipe and was in fact requested as a dinner this week when I poised the question ” what can we have for easy dinner on Thursday?”  Well easy enough everyone was happy and I plan to serve this to Little MIss Mixture after dance class along side a salad for dinner.

Monday Mixture – Meatless Monday

OMG is it really the last weekend in April.  Where has this year gone and more to the point where did spring go.  The temperatures this weekend were perfect for some outdoor fun and exercise and it was nice to enjoy as it may have been the calm before the storm in lots of ways.  The forecast this week does include quite a bit of rain and chance of showers, but we are fast approaching May and to those of us with kids this month may be busier than back to school.  The activities are ending, summer swim team practice begins which overlaps the dance recitals, and the parties – PTA, volunteer appreciation, teacher appreciation, and the list goes on.

With such a busy month ahead meals take some planning to ensure we have quick and easy items on those extra busy days and nights. To help my readers because that is my mission to spread easy, healthy meals and ideas so when we want to indulge we can here is what we are eating.

1. Our week in food or at least the remainder of the week after my return from Florida.

WednesdayNorth African Chicken Couscous with Kale Salad

Thursday – Breakfast for Dinner. This is one of our easy meal nights and because we did not have much Matzo during Passover we actually had Matzo Brei and fruit salad.

Friday – Tacos made from scratch (look for the recipe this week)

Saturday – Spinach, Strawberry & Grilled Chicken Salad

Sunday – Steak, Roasted Beets, and Tomato Mozzerella Salad.

Oh I do love fresh easy meals that the spring summer produce allow for.

2.  It is STRAWBERRY season!  The local farms are opening for fresh pick it yourself.  I not only enjoy supporting the local farms, but it is a fun activity and so nice to know where your food came from and how it got to your table. 1st pick of the season

3. Growing your own food – for the past five years I have planted a small amount of herbs and vegetables.  I primarily enjoy the herbs and jalapeños since I find it wasteful at times to purchase the fresh bunches and not always have a use for them.  Fresh herbs are definitely necessary in certain recipes, especially salads.  With the forecast of rain looming for Friday afternoon I quickly planted the items I purchased from a local farm vendor.  Of course it never rained, but they are planted there is more rain in the forecast, and within a few weeks we will enjoy.

Image 1
This years plants – super sweet 100 tomatoes, basil, jalapeños, mint, and basil.

I still have room so Little Miss Mixture may plant one or two to care for this year. Growing your own vegetables, fruit, or herbs is a learning experience for kids as well as a a great way to encourage new taste.

 

 

 

 

4. New website address.  I changed my website domain to the following address this weekend. Letshavemixture.com

As I continue to explore the blogging world, I am still working on a better format for recipes and making them printable.  If any readers are more experienced than I ( basically anyone blogging longer than a month), I would happily welcome some advice.

5. Sunday splurge – For the past few months we have been talking about going out for breakfast as there are several restaurants in the area that specialize in breakfast and Mr. Mixture and Little Miss Mixture are big breakfast fans.  We finally had a free weekend where the weather was nice enough to withstand the outside wait.

We had a wait but considering the size of the diner type restaurant and the number of people they moved tables quickly.  We waited about 25 minutes and had we been able to decide on our order, we would have been eating even sooner.

Stacks Kitchen, Good Food and Plenty of It as their sign reads lived up to their sign indeed.  None of us were members of the clean plate club, not that we strive for that, but we indulged and it was worth it.  Little Miss Mixture really likes pancakes and waffles, so she was very excited with the offerings that included chocolate and whipped cream along side most of them. The menu provided healthier options substituting whole wheat or getting egg whites in your omelette, but if I go out I am going to enjoy. This is my mantra and I am fine with it. We do not eat out that often and I would rather enjoy it when I do than leave feeling it was just okay or did not live up to what I expected.  That said we all enjoyed a calorie loaded carbohydrate rich breakfast.  Though each plate did include a fresh fruit topping.  It all works out thought as none of us seemed to need anything else to eat until after our visit to the greenway late afternoon. We enjoyed and you can too with your eyes.Image 2

Edited with BlogPad Pro

Coconut Zucchini Bread

HAPPY NATIONAL ZUCCHINI BREAD DAY

Image

Who is behind all these national days to celebrate random food, historians, and other things in our life?  I enjoy these days but I went to share the history of this day because I myself wondered when was it created?  Is it a new holiday?  Is it an old favorite?  Did holidays such as these even exist before the world of the internet, food blogs, twitter?

Now I am at a complete loss.  I can not provide you the history as I am not even sure what day is the actual National Zucchini Bread day anymore.  Am I two days late, one day early, or just in time?  The majority of the items that come up in the GOOGLE search engine when “National Zucchini Bread Day” is typed in are from the last three years.  Most reference April 25th, but I came across a webpage from 2006 that indicates National Zucchini Day is April 23rd always.  In fact it appears the person who wrote this page had the same idea as I.  To find the history of this day. Another random one from 2014 indicated April 23rd as well.  But wikipedia, , national day calendar, and a couple of blogs such as FoodimentaryAlmanac of Eats,  and American Food and Drinks all show April 25th as National Zucchini Bread Day and yes some of these have been around since 2006 or before.

Regardless of what day it is sometime this week marked National Zucchini Bread day and we are celebrating.

I have always enjoyed Zucchini bread and have been amazed how it transforms into a sweet delicate bread, muffin, cake.  I have tried to make certain recipes healthier and I know quick breads are not the healthier way to start the day even if they do include a vegetable or a fruit, but I just cannot seem to find a whole grain version that has the delicate balance that I enjoy. The closest one I have have is this recipe by Prevention RD that I substituted 1/2 cup maple syrup for the sugar. If I am going to enjoy a muffin or quick bread, I need it to be moist and light and whole wheat version are just too dense.

I have altered several recipes to decrease the sugar and increase the nutritional benefits by using healthier ingredients.  Here is my recent favorite. The recipe provided makes 1 loaf or 2 mini loaves.  This is half the amount of most recipes as I find I prefer to make it fresh and enjoy than to freeze it for a later time.

Coconut Zucchini Bread

1/2 cup coconut oil, in melted form

1 egg plus 1 1/2 Tbsp. beaten egg (1 1/2 eggs)

1 cup grated zucchini

3/4 cup maple syrup

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour (I use all-purpose)

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbsp.  and 2 tsp. shredded unsweetened coconut, divided

Optional Add ins or substitutions for the coconut: Walnuts, Chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together and pour into prepared loaf pan, reserving the 2 tsp. coconut.  Top the loaf/loaves with coconut as it will toast up nicely while the bread cooks.  If you are using a mini loaf pan like mine that the spot for 4 loaves do not forget to fill about 1″ of water in the empty ones to avoid the pan from burning.

Bake 350 degrees approx. 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Image

 

North African Chicken Couscous

North African Chicken Couscous is the name I coined a recipe that we have been enjoying for the past decade.  When I started cooking more and had to get more acclimated to apartment living and being on my own for meals, my mom begin giving cookbooks as a gift each year to my sister and I.  I had always been the one to pull recipes from magazines, newspapers, etc. Remember back then before the internet we had to look much harder to find recipes.  In fact in thinking about it the internet has done wonders for recipe searches.  How many times do I type random food items into my search bar or pinterest search just to see what I find?  Too many to count in a day much less a week.  I still love looking through magazines, cookbooks, and other publications for recipes and marking them to try at a later time.

My Treasure Chest Thursday recipe comes from one of the first cookbooks mom gifted us.  It was Better Homes & Gardens The Big Book of 30-minute Recipes.  I still have this cookbook and it holds several of our family favorites that I have tweaked over the years.  North African Chicken Couscous was adapted from North American Couscous in the BHG cookbook; however I never truly understood the name since the recipe has a lot of african moroccan type flavors. I think I accidentally referred to it as North African Chicken Couscous one time and the name stuck.  In  the cookbook it was also referred to as a stir fry which I really do not think it is.  It is however a nice combination of meat, veggies and fruit.

North African Chicken Couscous

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges/slices

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup sliced carrots (The original recipe calls for 16 baby carrots or 3/4 cup. I have always increased this amount)

2 cup chicken broth

1-2 zucchini depending on size, quartered and cut into pieces

3/4 cup raisins

2-3 tsp. curry powder

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup whole wheat couscous

DSC_9811

Rinse chicken, pat dry.  Cut chicken into bite size pieces, about 1-2 inches in size. In a large saucepan cook onions and garlic in hot oil about 3 minutes or until lightly sautéed.  Add chicken and carrots.  Cook, uncovered over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 cup chicken broth, zucchini, raisins, curry powder, and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Cover and cook over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are still crisp, but tender.  The flavors enhance nicely if turned to low and simmered for about 5-10 minutes.

DSC_9816

Meanwhile in a medium saucepan combine 1 cup chicken broth and 1 tsp cinnamon and bring to a boil.  Stir in couscous. Cover and remove from heat to let stand and fluff for about 5 minutes.  Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous.

DSC_9830

 

Enjoy.