Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip

When did I start making these Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip? I don’t even know. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember. Actually, the kabobs were a staple at a lot of graduations, confirmations, and our wedding, but the dip came a few years later. Kabobs are an easy, easy thing to do (in keeping with my “Nothing But Easy Summer”), but they’re so ridiculously impressive. Kids love to help make these, and they also love to eat them. Oh come on, who are we kidding – everyone loves to make them, and everyone loves to eat them. They’re easy to do, and they’re a lot of fun to make, PLUS they’re delicious! I use the regular wooden skewers that you can buy at any grocery store, but if you’re going to serve them to kids, cut off the sharp end after you get the fruit on there so. We don’t want anyone getting poked by that sharp end.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fruit Kabobs

I used strawberries, green grapes, pineapple, and blackberries for these kabobs, but you can use any combination you want, as long as the fruit is firm enough to stay on the skewer. Just wash the fruit, cut it into cubes (if necessary, as with melon), and push them onto the skewers. You can lay them on a platter, like I did here when I served them for book club, or you could try a fun way to serve them that I’ve done in the past. I cut a whole pineapple or watermelon in half, lay it flat side down on a platter, and poke the skewers into it. Then each person can pull out and take the skewer they want. It looks like so pretty it’s very festive, and it’s a lot of fun!

Fruit Dip

1 large Cool Whip

12 ounces cream cheese

1 medium jar strawberry jam

Mix all together.

This is best if it sits overnight.

The recipe for this dip makes a BIG batch. It will last you awhile.

The possibilities are endless for the different fruit combinations you can make on the kabobs.

Fruit is always good. Kabobs are a pretty and more fun way to eat fruit. I love this idea! The dip adds a sweet treat component, which you can either use with the kabobs or just leave off. You can also dip the fruit without putting it on a skewer – it’s up to you how you like to do it. Trust me – these Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Dip are easy and impressive to bring to any gathering!

 

 

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Blueberry Banana Popsicles

These Blueberry Banana Popsicles are a delicious frozen treat that I made one of our first hot days here in Minnesota. I still had a lot of frozen fruit in my freezer and I needed to use it up. Popsicles! It’s the first thing I thought of! I’m trying to make healthier treats and snacks for me and my husband, and these popsicles are a great alternative to ice cream. I mean, we LOVE ice cream – who doesn’t? I have made 2 Ingredient Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream with frozen bananas and strawberries, and the possibilities are endless for making that kind of treat. I used bananas with the blueberries for this particular recipe, but I’ve also just pureed real fruit like mango and pineapple, and frozen those in the popsicle molds. I’ve used fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with fruit, also, but I love how these turned out using the bananas. There was also a nice surprise with these popsicles, which I’ll talk about later in this post.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Blueberry Banana Popsicles

Put into food processor:

2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks

1 cup frozen blueberries (or other frozen berries, or 2 Tablespoons coco powder)

2 Tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup, if desired (you don’t have to add any if you don’t want to)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process until smooth.

Add:

1/4-1/2 cup of skim milk or almond milk, if needed to make the mixture smooth

I got 6 popsicles from this, but how many you get from the mixture will depend on how much (if any) milk you add to make the mixture smooth.

I used frozen fruit for this because I already had it in my freezer. I use a lot of frozen bananas for smoothies, ice cream, etc., and sometimes I’ll just buy a lot of bananas if they’re on sale just to put them into the freezer. I peel them, cut them in half, and put them into zip top freezer bags in the freezer. Make sure you label the bags so you know what they are if they get buried in the back of your freezer! If you use frozen fruit, you can decide whether you want to just eat it immediately like ice cream, or spoon it into popsicle molds (or use the old paper cup method).

At first the fruit looks like this after a few pulses in the food processor.

Because blueberries aren’t the juiciest fruit, I added the almond milk (to keep it fat free – or you could use skim milk), and that helped the mixture smooth out.

At this point, you could just eat it as ice cream. I wanted to put it into my popsicle mold, so I spooned it in and added the popsicle sticks (found as craft sticks at any craft store). The sticks stood up on their own because the mixture is so thick. I never put the lid on top (that comes with the mold) because I’ve found it nearly impossible to get the sticks out of it first so you can then pull the popsicles out of the mold. Next, into the freezer it went. You can also use paper cups for making the popsicles if you don’t have molds or don’t want to invest in them.

OMG. These are so good and good for you! I mean they were seriously tasty! It works well to take them out of the molds and wrap them individually for future snacking – then they’re ready to go when you need one. The one nice surprise I mentioned at the top of the post – they stayed soft and didn’t get icy – even after several days! Sometimes that can happen when making homemade popsicles or ice cream, but these didn’t. I don’t know if it was because the fruit was frozen first or because I added the honey or what, but I’m gonna try that again. These Blueberry Banana Popsicles are a healthy, delicious, good for you treat you’re gonna want to make over and over again!

 

 

 

 

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Fruit Fries

We’re sticking with my theme of “Nothing But Easy Summer” today, and making a health, tasty treat of Fruit Fries. I saw these on Instagram a few months ago, and I’m very sorry, but I don’t remember WHERE I saw it. This is so easy to do, and so delicious, that I know I’m going to be making these all summer long. Heck, I’ll make them all year long! The only thing this snack has to do with French fries, is the shape of them. They’re shaped like French fries – that’s the only similarity. Well, that and that they’re delicious, just in a different way. Since I was sick last year with pancreatitis, I’m always on the look-out for low-fat, healthy, and delicious snacks. This snack fits all 3 categories. There really isn’t a recipe for these, just a how-to, so here goes . . .

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fruit Fries

Cut into French fry shape of approximately the same size:

watermelon, or any type of melon

mango

jicama

Sprinkle on, to taste:

chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder and that was amazingly delicious)

flaky sea salt

lime zest

lime juice

That’s it! Done!

Cut the rind off of the watermelon and cut it into sticks. Any kind of melon would be delicious.

Cut the mango and then instead of cutting it into chunks, which I usually do. I found that it was easier to cut them into strips and then take off the skin.

Jicama is that ugly, potato-looking thing you always see in the produce section and wonder what the heck THAT is. I sliced it into 1/4″ slices and then took off the skin. They’re putting a waxy coating on them now (I assume to preserve them better), and I wondered if that would make a difference in cutting it, but the skin came off just fine. Jicama actually is crunchy like fries – so good.

Arrange the lovely fries on a platter – now the fun begins.

I first sprinkled on the chili powder, and since I used chipotle chili powder, I used it sparingly. We don’t need it so hot that you blow your head off. Remember – you can always put more on, but you can’t take it off. Next I sprinkled on the lime zest and lime juice. Last came the flaky sea salt – I like big flakes so you get a bit of a crunch.

This is seriously the most refreshing and delicious snack I’ve had in a long time! I love these things. In fact, I have a bit of a problem with these. They’re just so good! You’ll wonder, as I did, why you didn’t think of making something like this YEARS ago! Bring on summer! That means melons are plentiful and I’m going to be making a million different variations of these delicious, nothing but easy, Fruit Fries!

 

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Banana Chips

I saw the idea for Banana Chips on Valerie Bertinelli’s Food Network show “Valerie’s Home Cooking”, so I went online and did some research on how to make them. I thought it would be a perfect snack in my quest for caring for and nurturing Ebenezer (my pancreas). He’s had mostly good days, but also some bad days, and I want to make sure he stays happy and healthy. I have loved Banana Chips since buying them as snacks for my kids years ago. Why not try to make them myself? I don’t know why I never thought of that over the years, except that these do take some time to make, and that is something you’re kind of short on when raising three incredibly busy and active kids. Oh well, better late than never. Wanna see how these turned out? Here we go. . .

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Banana Chips

I used bananas that were ripe, but still fairly firm. Slice them between 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch thick. Making them the same thickness will help with them being baked evenly. The thinner the slices are, the faster they crisp up. Lay them out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush them with lemon or lime juice (I happened to have a lime in my frig) so they don’t turn brown.

Into the oven at 225 degrees for about 90 minutes (this seems to be the consensus online) and check to see if they’re firm enough. I gave them another bake in increments of 15 minutes (mine needed about an extra 45 minutes) until they felt fairly firm, let them cool 5 minutes, and checked again. I did this once and they went back into the oven for another 15 minutes, so it totaled about 2 1/2 hours all together.

I flipped them after the first 45 minutes, just to help with the drying out process. When you feel they’re dried enough and firm, let them cool on the parchment paper. At this point, I had already decided that if I’m going to go through this much work – and I will – I’ll make two pans next time!

After the banana slices are cool, carefully peel them off the parchment paper and store them in an airtight container. These don’t have any preservatives, so don’t wait too long before enjoying these, or you might have the same problem I had with the Roasted Chickpeas.

Actually, you won’t have the problem of trying to save these for any length of time. This batch didn’t last more than one afternoon. They’re sweet and crunchy and absolutely delicious. There isn’t any weird overly sweet flavor or extra banana flavor or preservative taste that you get with some store-bought kinds. These Banana Chips are totally worth the work – you’re gonna love them!

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Roasted Chickpeas

I NEED this recipe for Roasted Chickpeas. I love salty snacks – I mean, who doesn’t – but since my problem with Ebenezer last winter (my pancreas – you can read more about that here), I’ve tried to stay away from things with too much fat. I’ve tried to be good, really I have, but it’s not easy. I have a “thing” for salty snacks – popcorn, chips, pretzels, you name it. There just isn’t much variety of salty low-fat snacks out there. Sometimes you have to just take matters into your own hands. You can find recipes for these chickpea snacks all over the internet, so I thought it was time I gave them a try. I found this particular recipe one night on Instagram – you can check out Hip Foodie Mom’s blog here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Roasted Chickpeas

Drain, rinse, and pat dry:

1 can chickpeas (or garbanzo beans)

Put beans into small bowl.

Toss beans with:

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Mix together:

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Toss with beans and pay out on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until crisp.

You can put any flavor you want on these – taco seasoning, Mrs. Dash, Lowry’s Seasoned Salt, or make up your own – whatever YOU like.

Eat immediately, while they’re still crunchy (I found out the hard way that these don’t last too long, even in an airtight container – let me just say that they turned a nasty, fuzzy green – yes, moldy – after a couple of days).

I rinsed and drained the chickpeas.

Then I rolled the chickpeas on some paper towels to dry them off.

Next I tossed the chickpeas with olive oil so the spices would stick to them.

Then I mixed the oily chickpeas with the spices.

I recommend putting the chickpeas onto a parchment lined baking sheet so they don’t stick to the baking sheet.

After baking, the chickpeas are crispy and delicious. The longer they sat, the less crisp they were so eat them right away!

I like this recipe. The chickpeas are crispy and tasty and low-fat. Just remember to eat them right away, or within a day or two – you don’t want them getting moldy like mine did. That was just a waste. I may have to try making these with a lot of different spices and flavorings. They’ll keep Ebenezer happy and that keeps ME happy! I needed this low-fat snack, and so do you. Give this healthy and delicious snack of Roasted Chickpeas a try!

 

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Nutty “Raw” Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Here is a healthy recipe for Nutty “Raw” Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls that I saw when watching “The Kitchen” on Food Network a while back. Katie Lee was making these and I knew it was something I could use for a snack without too much fat and added sugar. This is another low-fat snack that will make Ebenezer (my pancreas – you can read more about that here) happy, and we definitely want to keep him happy. We don’t need any more issues with him moving forward. I think he’s finally seen the light and is behaving himself – he’s been nice and friendly and good to everyone (even after the holidays)! Because it’s a health issue, I may be trying some low fat recipes here from time to time. Don’t we all have the same New Year’s resolution – to be healthier in the new year? Well, let’s do it. I just don’t believe we need to eat crappy food to be healthy. If I find a delicious, yet healthy recipe (or at least healthier recipe), I’ll pass along the good word and we’ll all try these new recipes together. Sound fair? Good!

 

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Nutty “Raw” Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Soak in 1/4 cup hot water:

3 dates, pitted

Soak for 5 minutes and reserve the water.

Combine in food processor:

3/4 cup unsalted, raw almonds

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Pulse until it forms a fine meal.

Add:

1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter

3 soaked dates

3 Tablespoons of the reserved water the dates were soaked in

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Process until of a cookie dough consistency.

Transfer to a bowl and fold in:

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Using a scoop, portion dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Refrigerate until dough is chilled and set, about 20 minutes.

Store in refrigerator with parchment between layers.

Mmmm. Soaked dates.

These are full of healthy, good for you ingredients.

This looks like meal to me.

All mixed up and the chocolate chips are folded in and ready to go. I found that if I held the dough in my hands for a few seconds, it was easier to roll them into balls. I’m wondering if you could spread these into a 9″ x 9″ square pan, chill them, and cut them into small squares.

Ahh. There we go. Delicious. These babies are a lifesaver. I’m technically not supposed to eat much chocolate (too much fat), but I can handle these. They really do taste just like cookie dough, and I’m just going to keep a batch of these in my frig at all times – from now on! They’re so good! I love these and you will, too. Try these Nutty “Raw” Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls and give yourself a delicious, healthy treat!

 

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Healthy Chocolate Hostess Gift Treats

Today I’m sharing a great idea for Healthy Chocolate Hostess Gift Treats. I’m always on the lookout for an easy, yet pretty hostess gift that I know the hostess will love to get. Sometimes it’s nice for the gift to be something fun or nice for the hostess to enjoy AFTER all of the company leaves. This one fits the bill. Perfectly. I wouldn’t mind getting a few of these myself.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Healthy Chocolate Hostess Gift Treats

Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Melt:

1 bar of dark chocolate (or a package of chocolate chips)

Using a spoon, make puddles of chocolate on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Top with:

Anything you want – I used some healthy, seasonal goodies:

Dried apricots, chopped

Pepitas

Sprinkles in fall colors

You could use other dried fruits like:

Cranberries

Raisins

Pineapple

You could use nuts like:

peanuts

walnuts

pecans

sunflower seeds

You could use candies like:

crushed peppermint

mini M &M’s

chopped candy bars

The sky’s the limit – get creative!

Sprinkle on the goodies and let the chocolate harden. I would store these in the refrigerator until you’re ready to give them as a gift.

I have the goodies ready to sprinkle onto the chocolate before melting the chocolate. Next I melted the chocolate in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I used a spoon to make the chocolate puddles on the parchment paper.

Then I sprinkled on the goodies: the fruit, nuts, and sprinkles. These are similar to the “barks” that I made recently – Minnesota Viking Bark and Autumn Bark.

Let them harden at room temperature, or do what I did and slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet and put them into the refrigerator to firm up.

These are so pretty and so special and so perfect for a hard-working hostess – she’ll appreciate these tremendously, especially since they’re for her and her alone! You could put them on a piece of parchment paper on a paper plate (so they can go right into the hostess’s refrigerator) and either slip into a zip-top bag or cover with plastic wrap or cellophane, or do what I like to do – put some into a cellophane bag and tie with a pretty ribbon. Add a nice tag if you want, and you have a wonderful, delicious, chocolate treat for the hostess (or anyone special). Just remember to keep them in the refrigerator so they stay perfect for giving. Make up a few batches of these Healthy Chocolate Hostess Gift Treats and be good to all the hostesses coming up for you in the next few months!

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Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas

I saw today’s recipe for Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas on an episode of The Kitchen on Food Network, and they’re perfect for a healthy, low-fat autumn/Halloween/Thanksgiving treat. I’m watching my fat intake these days because of Ebenezer (my pancreas), so I’m always looking for low-fat snacks. I also think these would make another excellent hostess gift. We’re always looking for unusual hostess gifts this time of year – there are so many parties and gatherings to go to, and you need a supply of little gifts ready so you can just “grab and go”! Anyone would like this snack. I would LOVE to get these for a hostess gift. I like pepitas as a snack, and I like chai tea. The flavors are a bit sweet and salty – perfect! Another plus – this snack is so unbelievably easy to make –  simple dimple – I like that. I like that a lot.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Add to a large skillet:

1 cup pepitas

Toast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 6-8 minutes. (I skipped this step and used roasted, salted pepitas right from the bag.)

Combine in a small bowl:

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Set aside.

Remove pepitas from the pan and return pan to stove top (or, if you use already roasted pepitas, just put the pan on the stove and add the following).

Add:

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon water

Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is combined and sugar dissolves, 1-2 minutes.

Stir in the spices and turn off the heat.

Add the toasted pepitas and toss until the seeds are evenly coated.

Pour over the parchment lined baking sheet and spread to cool completely.

Break up slightly, then store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two weeks. (I had to let them sit overnight for the seeds to dry completely.)

This really is an incredibly easy recipe. Have your pepitas ready, mix up the spices, and get your wet ingredients into the pan.

Once the wet ingredients are heated and the sugar is dissolved, add the spices and stir it up.

Next, the pepitas go into the spiced mixture. Stir them up so they’re all coated.

Spread the pepitas onto the parchment lined baking sheet and let them dry. That’s it. Simple dimple. Easy peasy. They’re so tasty with the spicy flavor of chai tea. Yum. Sweet, spicy, and salty – how bad can that be? Try this delicious snack that’s also pretty healthy. You’ll love these Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas – they’re the perfect little gift or snack for fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving!

 

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Granola

Today’s recipe for Granola comes from my oldest daughter, who found it online. It comes from Food Network courtesy of Alton Brown, and it is amazingly delicious! When I was recovering last spring after my bout of pancreatitis, for some reason I was very picky about what appealed to me appetite-wise. Granola was one of those things. How weird is that? I don’t know why. Granola is good, and I like it, but it’s hardly one of my favorites. Well, I’m sticking with it as a once-in-a-while snack and breakfast treat. You might even say I’m addicted now. I think this recipe is one that will be a keeper for me. This one still has a bit more fat and sugar than I’d like to be eating, in general, so I may have to try some different things with the basic recipe. We’ll see how that goes. I mean, I still want it to taste as delicious as this recipe and not like cardboard. It’ll take some experimentation, I’m sure, but I’m game. Meanwhile, I’m hooked on this amazingly delicious Granola.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Granola

In a large bowl, combine:

3 cups oatmeal

1 cup slivered almonds (I used whole raw almonds, chopped – I like chunks)

1 cup cashews (I used walnuts)

3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar (I used regular brown sugar)

In a separate bowl, combine:

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl.

Add:

1 cup raisins (I used golden raisins)

Mix until evenly distributed.

I have to admit that I haven’t made actual granola before. It was pretty easy to do, and I’ll be making it weekly from now on. I did also try a batch with half of the amount of oil, brown sugar, and maple syrup. It’s not as tasty, but is still VERY good, and it’s lower fat for Ebenezer.

It’s pretty simple to mix it all up. Save any dried fruit for after baking or you’ll end up with hard little nuggets of who knows what.

This batch was big enough for 2 baking sheets.

It comes out of the oven all toasty and delicious.

Have you ever noticed on a box of granola that a serving is 1/2 cup? Seriously? This is too good for just a 1/2 cup.

This Granola is so good. It really is delicious. I keep using that word, delicious, but it is some SERIOUS delicious. The almonds, coconut, and brown sugar go together so well and is so tasty. I just can’t stop eating this stuff. There are worse things to be addicted to, but I guess you could say that this Granola is my newest addiction.

 

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Peach Smoothie

When peaches are in season, a Peach Smoothie is a great way to enjoy them while they’re here. In Minnesota, we get “crates” of them shipped here from other states where peaches are much more apt to grow, like Colorado or California. Peaches don’t grow so well here in this climate, although my husband swears that they had a white peach tree in their yard when he was growing up. Grandma and my mom always got boxes of peaches every August, and I have very fond memories of me and my sister eating peaches until we were sick. They were so good and they only showed up in August, so we had to enjoy them while we could. The crates are now made of cardboard, but the boxes that the peaches came in used to be made of wood, and Grandma’s family would get one of those crates every year and then preserve them for the winter by making things like Peach Jam, Canned Peaches, Peach Pie, Glazed Peach Pie, Peach Crisp, Peach Cake, the list goes on and on. They were also able to re-use everything about those old wooden peach crates. The crates themselves were used for storage in the garage or as a side table, because they had two separate sections that acted like shelves. We had two peach crates used for tables in our playhouse when we were growing up – they had been painted brown and came in handy for storing all kinds of necessities like doll clothes or books. One other thing – back then, the peaches that came in those crates were wrapped in pink tissue paper, and I think we all know what that was used for back in the days of the Great Depression when people used outhouses and couldn’t afford toilet paper. I have heard that for that reason alone, people would look forward to August and peach season!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Smoothie

Put into blender:

1 peach, cut up

1 small container of vanilla greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk

6 ice cubes

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

2 whole graham crackers, crushed (reserve half for putting around rim of glass)

Blend.

Put reserved graham cracker crumbs onto a small plate.

Wet the rim with a slice of peach and then put edge of glass into graham cracker crumbs.

Pour smoothie into glass, add a squirt of your favorite canned whipped topping and a straw.

Oh, how I love peach season!

I still use my old blender from the late 1970’s.

The graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon help to make this smoothie taste like you’re enjoying one of those above-mentioned recipes like Glazed Peach Pie or Peach Crisp!

This really is a healthy, delicious, and very pretty snack. While there are many, many things you can and SHOULD make with peaches right now, this is just one more way to use peaches. Your family will love this Peach Smoothie – I guarantee it!

 

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