Monthly Archives: December 2012

Peppermint Chocolate Truffles

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If you’re a follower of foodgawker or other food-blog related websites, then you’ve likely seen these delectable Oreo truffle recipes that have been floating around the internet. They are super easy and are made with only 3 ingredients – crushed Oreos, cream cheese, and dipped in melted chocolate. When I saw the addition of peppermint to this recipe, I knew I had to try it. To me, nothing says the holidays or wintertime quite like the combination of chocolate and mint.

If you have a food processor or a blender, you can easily make these delicious desserts. You can choose to melt the chocolate over a stove or in a microwave, as long as you keep an eye on it. These little morsels are truly delicious and would be the perfect treat to serve at a New Year’s party or just a get-together with friends. They are rich, moist, and have the perfect balance of chocolate and peppermint flavors. Best of all, you can make them ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to serve them.

Peppermint Chocolate Truffles
adapted from Candy Cane Peppermint Truffles on Liv Life

Ingredients:
makes about 30 truffles

  • 1 15.5 package Oreos (I used generic kind and they still tasted just as good!)
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 4-5 round peppermint candies, plus more for decorating (crushed)
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract, divided in half
  • 1  1/2 to 1 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or about 10 oz. dark chocolate)

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Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, add Oreos and 4-5 peppermint candies and pulse until they break down into a fine powder. If your food processor is small like mine (only 3 cups), you may need to do this in batches.
  2. Pour the crushed Oreos into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add softened cream cheese and 1/2 tsp peppermint extract. Stir until well-incorporated and mixture forms a thick paste.
  3. Using your hands, roll Oreo mixture into balls (about the size of a heaping tablespoon). Place on a platter or cookie sheet and stick in the freezer for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Melt chocolate using a double boiler over low heat, or in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each one until chocolate is melted. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp peppermint extract.
  5. Using a fork or spoon, gently dip the truffles into the melted chocolate and roll around until completely covered. Remove from from melted chocolate with your fork or spoon and place on a wax-lined cookie sheet. If desired, sprinkle crushed peppermint candies on top to decorate.
  6. Once all truffles have been dipped in chocolate, place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.

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🙂

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

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The recipe for this sauce was inspired by a couple of things. One: my love of roasted red peppers. Up until a few years ago, I actually strongly disliked red bell peppers. I would always pick them out of my mom’s stir fry and was never a fan of roasted red pepper hummus. Somewhere along the line, that changed, and now red peppers are a staple in my diet!
Two: a red pepper dip that my aunt used to make with feta cheese, white beans, and garlic. This sauce tastes surprisingly similar to that dip, which leads me to believe that this recipe would be great with crackers or pretzels.

This sauce is a delicious, low-fat alternative to marinara sauce that can be whipped up in just seconds! I really love creamy sauces, but wanted to stay away from heavy cream and butter. To create the creamy consistency in this sauce, part-skim ricotta cheese and low-fat cream cheese are used. If you dislike ricotta, cottage cheese may be substituted. Or if you want to steer clear of both ricotta and cottage cheese, you could even use a combination of cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Whichever combination you choose to use, you will still come out with a zesty, creamy sauce that tastes delicious on pasta or chicken and won’t make you feel like you’re cheating on your diet. I used jarred roasted red peppers, but feel free to roast fresh bell peppers if you wish.

Ingredients:
makes 1 – 1.5 cups, or about 2 servings

  • 1 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, or about 1 cup chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, chopped (if using dried basil, use 1-2 tsp)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste or sauce
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6-7 oz. pasta (I used half a box of whole grain penne)
  • optional: 1-2 cups fresh spinach

Your ingredients, plus pasta (I didn’t end up using the spinach – someday I will get this ingredient photo right!)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the first 6 ingredients. Pulse until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  2. Cook pasta according to box directions.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat creamy roasted red pepper sauce in a small saucepan over low heat just until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat. (If using spinach, add it to the heated sauce and stir until wilted.)
  4. Pour sauce over pasta and enjoy with a sprinkle of extra parmesan cheese. 🙂
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Roughly chop your roasted red peppers, basil, and garlic

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Add peppers, garlic, basil, tomato paste, ricotta cheese, and parmesan cheese to food processor and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper as needed

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The sauce will look something like this – smooth and creamy and delicious.

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Pour heated sauce over cooked pasta and enjoy 🙂

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🙂

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Lemon Artichoke White Bean Hummus

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Ever since I started college, hummus has been one of my go-to snacks. I especially love roasted red pepper or spicy hummus. It’s the perfect snack to go along with veggies or crackers.

Hummus is typically made from puréed chickpeas, tahini (which is simply ground sesame seeds), olive oil, garlic, and other spices or flavors. Chickpeas are great and all, but I realized there was a type of hummus I liked even more – white bean hummus. White beans, such as Cannellini, Great Northern, or Navy, are softer than chickpeas and have a smoother texture when puréed. White beans have a similar flavor to chickpeas, but contain no fat whereas chickpeas contain a small amount. Chickpeas have slightly more protein, however, so it’s a bit of a trade-off.

This hummus combines two of my favorite things – lemons and artichokes. While others may have a sweet tooth, I’ve always had what I like to call a “sour tooth” – I love sour flavors. Lemons and limes were typical snacks for me growing up, and I can’t say no to sour candy like Sour Patch Kids or Warheads. I’ve also come to learn how wonderful lemon flavor can be to cooking, and how it can add brightness to any dish.
Artichokes, on the other hand, are a food I’ve only liked since I was a teenager. Canned artichokes are a pantry staple for me; I love adding them to pasta or dips, such as this hummus. Lemon and artichoke are often paired together in many traditional recipes, and are a match made in heaven in my opinion.

This Lemon Artichoke White Bean Hummus is creamy, tangy, and makes a perfect healthy afternoon snack. I love to eat it with Wheat Thins, but it would also be delicious spread on a sandwich or wrap! I’ve made this hummus a few times now and it has quickly became one of my favorites.

Lemon Artichoke White Bean Hummus
makes approximately 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz. can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or other type of white bean, such as Great Northern or Navy)
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • juice from 1 lemon (about 2-3 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • pinch of cayenne pepper or paprika
  • 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained*
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*To make optional artichoke garnish as shown in photo, reserve 1/4 cup of the artichokes and blend separately with a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Directions:

  1. In a 3-cup or larger food processor, combine white beans and olive oil and blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, extra oil or water may be needed.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients except for the artichoke hearts and blend for 30-45 seconds.
  3. Add artichokes and blend until desired consistency is reached. I left mine a little bit chunky.
  4. Serve with crackers or veggies. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 5-6 days.
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Blend your beans, olive oil, tahini, and spices in a food processor until smooth

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Add artichokes and blend to desired consistency (mine needed a little extra cumin)

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Serve with crackers or veggies and enjoy 🙂 

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