Make Your Own Breakfast Smoothies

When I lived in Los Angeles, I became obsessed with Jamba Juice.  Those lucious, fruity, thirst-quenching smoothies  were a delicious treat in the morning, after a work out, or any time of day.  However, my one issue was that the drinks were soooooo big.  There are a lot of calories (carbs and sugar) packed into the 16 oz. size.  So, I started making them at home so I could control the size of the beverage (and my hips) and the ingredients. 

Fruit Smoothie

Crunchy Breakfast Smoothie

The biggest challenge in duplicating the smoothie was how to end up with the same thick, icy consistency.  A friend suggested using frozen bananas and it worked perfectly.  I thought of using frozen fruit in general and adding some plain yogurt and oila!!  I was able to achieve that perfect smooth, cool and chunky but drinkable beverage.

Recently, I visited Jamba Juice in NYC (so happy they’re on the east coast now), and purchased one of their new fruit “Toppers”.   It’s a thicker smoothie layered with granola and sliced bananas.  It was the perfect refreshment but more like a “spoonable” meal.  The crunchy and substancial combination of the  granola and bananas makes for a filling, all natural and delicious treat.  

So, recently I started making my own “Toppers”, but instead of granola, I use Grapenuts cereal.   While granola is a great option too, I prefer the consistency of Grapenuts, especially when they soak up the liquid.   Grapenuts are also  lower in calories.  However, you can use whichever you prefer. 

The beauty of “make your own”smoothies is that you can get to choose your fruit, yogurt flavor, and crunchy topping.  It all depends on the flavor or crunch you want.  The most important “trick” to remember is to use frozen fruit to thicken the smoothie without having to use ice, which makes a more liquid drink.  

So, get started making your own breakfast smoothies and your won’t be disappointed.  In addition to the delicious taste, you’ll be able to make something fresh, healthy, and full of all natural goodness.

Recipe for Breakfast Smoothie

Makes one single serving – double or triple for more

Ingredients (approximate based on your own tastes)

– One frozen banana (remember to peel the banana before your freeze it)

– 1/2 cup frozen or fresh fruit of your choice (berries and pitted fruit – ie peaches, apricots, mango work best)

– 1/3 cup of yogurt (I prefer plain greek as it adds little additional sugar or flavor)

– 1/3 cup of juice (orange, apple, cranberry etc)

– Granola or Grapenuts or preferred breakfast cereal

Instructions:  Blend and puree fruit, yogurt, and juice.  Pour smoothie into glass.  Layer or top with granola or cereal and fresh fruit.  Enjoy.

October 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

Soft and Chewy, Chocolatey and Gooey Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies
Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

The weather on the east coast has finally taken a turn.  Cooler, crisper days, with chilly nights are the welcomed October fare.  Our “treat” tastes also change with the new season, as summer fruits meld into fall treasures.  Now is the time to experiment with interesting flavors – combinations of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg that spice up any recipe in the right proportions.  Last week, I came across a tattered recipe I had cut out for Martha Stewart’s Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies, which contains the perfect balance of sugar, spice, and chocolate.

I absolutely love chewy gingerbread cookies and this recipe did not disappoint.  It was the perfect combination – a soft but chewy chocolate gingerbread cookie with thick chunks of chocolate in almost every bite.  I had never thought of adding cocoa to gingerbread but am certain this is what makes it a “killer cookie”.   I’ve already made the recipe twice this month, first using semi-sweet chocolate chips and then with chocolate chunks, which I definitely preferred. 

So, here is the recipe, which can be found at Martha Stewart.com.  Let me know what you think.  I’ll be curled up in the corner with a good book and another batch. 

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

  • 7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
  4. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

October 14, 2010 at 5:01 pm Leave a comment

Waiting For You, My Luscious Jersey Blues!

Lemon Blueberry Scones

Lemon Blueberry Scones

For Mother’s Day, I surprised my mom with homemade fresh blueberry lemon scones.  I surprised myself with how easy they were to make and how delicious they were to eat.   Scones are one of my favorite treats with a cup of tea (British-style, with milk, of course) however,  I prefer scones that are moist and crumbly to the dry triangle-shaped scones prevalent in today’s coffee shops and supermarket bakery sections. 

So, I was delighted when the finished product came out exactly like I had hoped – almost.  I used a recipe from The Cheese Board Collective Works Cookbook.  The Cheese Board is a wonderful bakery (I hear from my trusted foodie friend Jessica)  in Berkeley, Ca right near Chez Panisse.  This recipe called for buttermilk, heavy cream and fresh blueberries, one of my favorite summer fruits, especially for baking.  While these scones were delicious, the fresh blueberries I used were not from New Jersey.  It was just too early for those luscious, plump, sweet-tart, purple blue marbles of goodness that melt in your mouth.  I thought, I can’t wait to make this recipe again in the summer with JERSEY BLUES.  Clafouti’s, pies, even fruit salad just taste better with these lovely “blue” accents. 

As a rule, I don’t eat anything “blue”.   No blue m&m’s, no blue ice-pops, don’t really like blue cheese, but blueberries, now that’s a different story.   

So, hurry up Mother Nature.  We can’t wait to go blueberry picking, so we can start baking all those delicious blueberry recipes.  Feel free to share your own with others reading this post.

June 9, 2010 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

Back To Snacking with Peruvian Popcorn!!!

It’s been a long while since I’ve been “talking snacks” on this blog.  I certainly have not stopped snacking in private, but have lapsed in blogging about my culinary adventures on the web.  So have no fear, I am back to “snacking in public”.   
I’ve spent most of the year trying to navigate the new digital landscape, figuring out how to “Twitter“, how not to spend all day on my Facebook page, and deciding which new phone/mobile device to upgrade to.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Today, I placed my order for the new IPhone 3GS.  When I realized that I will now be able to take photos and videos of anything I eat and post them to my blog immediately, I thought, now my readers will have food news hot off of the press or more poignantly, my tongue.  So, stay tuned to more SNACKTIME.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Mystery Food

Just for starters, I took this photo over a year ago when I traveled to Peru and hiked to Machu Picchu.  This is Peruvian Popcorn or Canchita, a unique snack that I fell in love with while visiting the amazing country.  We found this popcorn served as a bar snack in many of the bars and taverns we visited. 

Instead of the kernels popping inside out like the popcorn we eat in the states, these kernels pop internally.  Once they are cooked in oil, puff up and pop open slightly, they easy to eat and taste similar to the leftover kernels at the bottom of the popcorn maker or pot .  The slightly split kernels are my favorite, so, I was so happy to be introduced to this fun snack.  Similar in size to Cornnuts, the kernels are much larger than our popcorn but have a similar crunch

To prepare the Canchita, you cover the kernels with oil in a wide pot with a lid.  The popcorn is cooked a few minutes until the popping stops.  Then you strain them from the oil, salt and eat.   Check out this Simply Delicioso video with Ingrid Hoffman  http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/surprising-peruvian-popcorn/29007.html to see how to make the popcorn.

The popcorn is sold in limited places around the country, mostly stores that sell Peruvian or South American products.  You can purchase the popcorn on line as well. 

Check back for websites that offer the corn.  I am in the process of online stores where it is available.

Happy popping!!!!!

June 16, 2009 at 4:50 pm 4 comments

Cookies — Red, White and Blue and 25% off for you!

My long overdue return to writing this blog comes just in time to celebrate the upcoming Independence Day holiday , or “the Fourth of July”, as it is commonly known.  One of the most important days in our nation’s history, we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and our independence from Great Britain. 

In keeping with the patriotic theme, last weekend I visited Grant’s Tomb, or the General Grant National Memorial, the official name.  Visiting this important monument, I was reminded of the sacrifices those before us made to make America what it is today.  We need to be thankful for the vision of our forefathers, the sacrifices of the military heroes who fought for our freedom yesterday, today and every day.Byrd Cookie Company Apple Pie Cookies

 

While most of us think of July 4th as a day off, a trip to the beach or a bar-b-q.  This year, amongst the fireworks, hamburgers and red, white and blue iced cupcakes, let’s remember the brave men who fought so we could have a day of celebration. 

Now onto the good stuff.  What would a Snacktime post be without uncovering a new snack!  Well just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July,  the Byrd Cookie Company, one of my gourmet food clients, is offering discounts on all of their red, white and blue gift tins and jars, 25% off selected cookie gifts, and free shipping on other items.  Recently introduced new, Apple Pie Cookies are also on sale.  All the products at Byrd Cookie Company make great gifts so place an order before July 4th to take advantage of the special pricing.  Enter the promotion code JULY4 at checkout and save.   Buy one for you and one for a friend. 

 Happy snacking.

 

June 24, 2008 at 8:37 pm 2 comments

Chocolate and Pretzels, the Perfect Combination

chocolate-pretzels.jpgimg_0230.jpgimg_0230.jpgimg_0230.jpgI’ve written about my love of pretzels, hence the “Pretzelgirl” handle, but I have yet to tell you about my favorite foods to combine with them.  Nothing goes better with the salty crunch of pretzels than the smooth, creamy, chocolatey taste of any kind of chocolate.  White chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate or even chocolate flavored chocolate, you can’t beat chocolate covered pretzels, a famous treat, which chocolate-pretzels.jpgchocolate-pretzels.jpgmakes a perfect snack. 

In trying to come up with a clever idea to bring to my nephew’s college graduation celebration, I decided to make my own chocolate covered pretzels.  I had seen them made once before but forgot how simple they are to make.  All you need is some good chocolate, pretzels shaped to your liking, a microwave oven, and some wax paper.

First you melt chocolate in a bowl in the microwave for one to two minutes or until most of the chocolate has melted.  Stir the chocolate until all of it is smooth and creamy.  Dip, submerge or spread the chocolate on pretzels and lay the finished product carefully onto a wax paper lined baking pan.  Decorate with sprinkles, nuts, cookie crumbs or whatever you want and let sit until chocolate sets. 

You can chill the pretzels in the refrigerator but be careful that the temperature change is not too dramatic after you take them out or the chocolate will develop those nasty white spots or streaks.  While there is nothing wrong with the taste, it will just look bad. 

The other two most important steps to remember are to not over heat the chocolate and make sure you don’t disturb the pretzels until the chocolate has set. 

You can use colored chocolate wafers, which work great, and mix colors, drizzle or double or triple dip the chocolate with a combo of milk, dark and white for a true gourmet candy.  Wrapping then in cellophone bags tied with ribbons  also gives them a professional look.  The bags are ususally available at most baking supply stores or on line.

Whether you make them or buy them, if you have never tasted chocolate covered pretzels, you are in for a treat.

Here are links to some of my favorite chocolate covered pretzel companies:

Asher’s – Traditional chocolate covered pretzels in milk, white and dark.  They also make yummy chocolate covered potato chips (try them – you’ll love them)

Fretzels – I have never tasted these but they look absolutely amazing.  You can order them online for gifts or as a pretzel of the month club.  What a great idea? Fretzels all year round.

July 26, 2007 at 5:56 pm 4 comments

Natural Snacks, Good For You and Tasty Too!

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the chance to visit many of my old “food” haunts which kept me sane while I lived there.  It’s so difficult for a New Yorker to be satisfied gastronomically in most other cities, but the one thing LA had going for it was the fresh produce at the farmer’s markets.img_0170.jpg

When I lived in LA, every Saturday, I would walk to the famed Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica to buy my week’s worth of fresh California fruits and vegetables.  Who could resist snacking on fresh California strawberries, the many varieties of oranges, and yummy tree ripened peaches and plums. 

But my favorite treat  from the market were the fresh apricots, just picked and still firm to the touch, with a slight blush to the golden yellow skin.  No where on earth have I ever img_0179.jpgtasted such juicy little bundles of heaven.  On my recent trip, I had to stop at my favorite market and pick up a few pounds which I devoured in only a few days.  I am so spoiled by their tasty goodness that I still can’t bring myself to buy them anywhere else.

img_0167.jpgIn addition to the local farmer’s markets, the famed Fairfax Farmer’s Market is still in existence and more popular than ever since they built an outdoor mall, called The Grove, just next door.  One think I enjoyed snacking on while roaming through the stalls was the mixed nuts from Magee’s House of Nuts.  They also make delicious homemade peanut butter, but on this trip, I stuck with the mixed nuts.  So what’s so special about these nuts?  Well, take a look.  Crunchy, salty, with a perfect blend of Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts, Pecans and the best part — giant, collossal Macadamia nuts.  Have you ever seen Macadamia’s this big?  They almost dwarf the almonds.  These have to be the largest nuts I have ever seen!

While you can’t beat the fresh produce, the one thing LA was lacking in was a variety of Pretzels.  So, while I lived there, I shopped at the farmer’s markets religiously and mail-ordered my pretzels from the east coast.   I have to admit, LA does have the best produce (which the exception of Jersey tomatoes and blueberries) but when you can find delicious fresh fruit from anywhere, it’s the best snack in the world – good for you and tasty too.

July 7, 2007 at 1:01 am 6 comments

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