Quick and Easy Patriotic Fruit & Pretzels

I had to throw together a quick dessert for a party recently.  I wanted it to be on the healthy side since I knew there would be lots of other sweets at the party.  So I went to where I usually get most of my ideas, Pinterest! I am a bit of a Pinterest addict and I am always so happy when I actually make something from the hundreds of ideas I’ve pinned.  My dessert is a variation of this one I found on Pinterest.  If I made it again, I would try to use strawberries or watermelon for a brighter red color, but the cherries were what looked best at the market so we went with that!

This is a super easy dish to make and it was wildly popular at the party!  You can’t beat fresh, Michigan cherries!  I just washed the fruit, arranged it on a tray with yogurt covered pretzels and it was ready to go!

Fruit and pretzels

So if you find yourself scrambling for an idea for a 4th of July party, give this a try!  Simple, easy, healthy and delicious!  A perfect combination!

Happy 4th of July!   I hope you enjoy some good food, family, fireworks and fun!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Strawberry Time!

I hope all of the Dads out there enjoyed their special day. We are so blessed to have such awesome Dads in our family from my own Mister to my brother, nephews and brother-in-law!  My own Dad is not here on earth to celebrate with us but he left me with many, many fond memories of a father who was always there for me, spending time with me and loving me unconditionally.  For more on the story of my inspirational Dad click here.

Here in Michigan it is strawberry time!  Since my oldest daughter was little, it has been a tradition to visit the local U-pick strawberry patch and pick strawberries for homemade jam!  I have tried various recipes over the years, but have settled on this no-cook freezer jam.  It is quick, easy and delicious.

There is a low-sugar pectin option, but I have had a hard time finding it in my area, so I opted for the full sugar option this year.

So in a few hours we went from this:

upick

to this!

Jam

I followed the recipe on the Ball pectin jar and multiplied the recipe by five.  I did this for two batches and made about 20 or so jars of jam.  Here is the recipe I followed:

Homemade Strawberry Jam (Ball Recipe):

1 2/3 cup hulled and crushed strawberries ( I used a potato masher to crush the strawberries doing about 4 cups at a time in a bowl.  You can crush to preference-I like small pieces of strawberries in the jam.)

2/3 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. Ball Real Fruit Instant Pectin

Directions:

1.Stir sugar and pectin in a bowl.

2.Add fruit, stir 3 minutes.

3.Ladle name into clean freezer jars and let stand 30 minutes.  Leave space at the time to allow for expansion during freezing. (I let mine stand overnight and then transferred to the freezer.)

There is nothing like opening a jar of homemade strawberry jam on a cold Michigan winter day and being reminded of the tastes of summer!  This has become a very special family tradition and we even got my brother to join us for this fun outing!  If you have not picked strawberries or made jam, I encourage you to give it a try.  It is a super easy and fun-filled family activity!

Hope you are enjoying this first week of summer!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Turkey White Bean Chili

We are in the midst of another “Polar Vortex” here in Michigan and it looks like much of the country is experiencing some abnormally chilly temps, so I thought it would be nice to share one of our family’s favorite healthy recipe for chili. This Turkey White Bean Chile is guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out!   I clipped this recipe from a magazine a long time ago (not sure which one, so unfortunately, I can’t give credit to the source).  I have adapted it slightly adding a bit more water and whole organic tomatoes instead of canned.  I also use a little less onion than is called for in the original recipe, it depends on your preference for onions.   I usually double the recipe and save for leftovers or freeze for another meal.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!  So gather the family around the table and enjoy a hearty, healthy bowl of chili!

~Blessings,

Jen

Turkey chili

Total Time: 25 minutes

Makes: 4 main dish servings

Ingredients:

1 tbs. olive oil

1 lb ground turkey (93% lean)

1 med. onion chopped

4 tsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes in juice chopped (or about 4 whole organic tomatoes chopped)

1 can (15 to 19 oz.) white kidney beans (cannelloni), rinsed and drained

1.The recipe calls for cooking the chili in a 12 inch skillet, but I use a large stockpot so I can double the recipe.  Heat oil on medium-high until hot.  Add turkey and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until turkey loses pink color throughout, stirring to break it up with side of spoon  Add onion and cook 4 minutes.  Stir in chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute.

2. Add tomatoes, with their juice, beans and 1/2 cup water (I usually add 1 cup or 2 cups of water if doubling.)  Heat to boiling on high.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Ladle chili into serving bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt or low fat sour cream.

Each serving: About 380 calories, 33 g of protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 13 g total fat (3 g saturated), 10 g fiber, 81 mg cholesterol, 875 mg sodium (I imagine sodium would be less if you used free tomatoes)

 

Apple Pie In a Mug

I recently came across this recipe from Hungry Girl called Red Hot Apple Pie In A Mug.  I know it is not exactly apple season but with summer around the corner, what is more American than apple pie!  This recipe took me less than 10 minutes to make and it really does taste like apple pie.  For a mere 140 calories, it is a tasty, sweet treat!

Ingredients:

1 medium apple (I use organic)

12-15 red hot baking candies

1 graham cracker sheet (you can use cinnamon or regular)

cinnamon

whipped topping

Directions:

1. Dice the apples into bite sized pieces and place the apple and red hots into a mug. Cover and heat in microwave for one minute.


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2.After 1 minute stir and microwave for another 1-2 minutes and stir. (I only had to cook for 1 minute).  The one problem I had was that it bubbled over both times I tried this recipe.  I covered the mug with a salad plate and it must not have sealed properly.  This dessert is well worth the little mess though!  When it is done cooking, it looks like this:

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3. Let the apples cool for 2-3 minutes.  Place the graham cracker sheet in a  sealed baggie and now it is time get some frustration out with your rolling pin, by pounding the cracker into crumbs!

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4. Add most of the crumbs to the apple mixture and stir.  Top with whipped cream and add the rest of the graham cracker crumbs and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Mine was still a bit hot so the whipped cream started to melt, but trust me, it was delicious!

Here is the breakdown of the nutritional information:

PER SERVING (entire recipe): 140 calories, 0.5g fat, 44mg sodium, 47g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 24.5g sugars, 0.5g protein — PointsPlus® value 5*

Have a great weekend!

~Blessings,

Jen

Lemon Daisy Cupcakes

I hope everyone had a Blessed Easter!  We have a tradition in our family to have Easter dinner at my Aunt’s house.  We have been doing this since I was born and our clan has grown.  There were sixty-two of us this year!  I am so blessed to be able to spend time with this special bunch of people.

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One thing there is not a shortage of at this get together is food!  Everyone brings something to share and the table is overflowing with delicious treats!  This year, Little One and I decided to get creative and make daisy cupcakes.  I adapted a recipe from McCormick called Easy Lemon Daisy Cupcakes (see link for original recipe).

The recipe took some time and patience, but it was a great recipe for Little One to help with.  She was in charge of  the jelly beans and yellow sprinkles.

Lemon Daisy Cupcakes (adapted)

Cake:

1 pkg. white cake mix (I used french vanilla)

1 tbsp. pure lemon extract

Prepare cake mix according to directions adding 1 tbsp. lemon extract.  Spoon batter into 24 paper lined muffin cups filling 2/3 full.  Cool on wire rack.

Frosting:

The original recipe called for a cream cheese/sour cream frosting so if that is your preference, see the above link.  I went with a traditional vanilla frosting.  This is a recipe from my Mom.

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 c. butter softened

3-4 tbsp. milk

2 tsp. vanilla (or you could add lemon extract-I used vanilla)

yellow food coloring

Mix all ingredients together and frost cupcakes.

Decorations:

24 large marshmallows

decorating sugar

jelly beans

Cut marshmallows crosswise into 5 slices.  Sprinkle 1 side of each slice with yellow decorating sugar.  Arrange 5 marshmallow petals on top of each cupcake to resemble a daisy, press in the marshmallows into the frosting.  Place jelly beans in center.

I left some plain, without sugar sprinkles to mix it up (honestly-we ran out of sugar sprinkles!).  We also sprinkled the cupcake with green sugar before adding the daisy marshmallow petals.

Tips:

Sometimes it was hard to get 5 slices out of one marshmallow so you may need a few more than 24.  The scissors got very sticky!  Be careful! I had an injury trying to clean off the scissors.

You could use many different colors/flavors for the cake and a variety of candies for the middle.  I thought pink frosted, strawberry flavored cupcakes would be pretty for Mother’s Day.

Here is our final product!

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Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Sorry for the lapse in posts this week!  Jules and I have been busy visiting and helping with her new twin grandchildren!  It has been a while since we have posted a recipe.  I thought I would share this muffin recipe from skinnytaste.com with you.  The bananas make them super moist and of course the chocolate makes them extra special!  You can make this recipe as mini loaves or muffins.  I have always opted for the muffins, but the mini loaves would make great gifts!

photo (3)

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3  ripe medium bananas
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 oz mini chocolate chips
  • Smart Balance baking spray

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a non-stick loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Mash bananas in a bowl, set aside. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, bananas, apple sauce, vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

4. Add flour mixture, then blend at low speed until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Do not over mix.

5. Pour batter into muffin pan; bake on the center rack for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

As muffins:
Servings: 12 • Serving Size: 1 muffin • Old WW Points: 3 • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 131.9 • Fat: 3.3 g • Carb: 27.2 g • Fiber: 2.7 g • Protein: 2.8 g • Sugar:14.6 g
Sodium: 148.6 mg

Enjoy!

~Blessings,

Jen