Monday, December 17, 2007

Keeping the weight off this holiday season

This Christmas season don't get so up tight about the fat and calories that are in many of our favorite holiday treats instead makeover your family’s favorite recipes by altering the fat, fibre and sugar content without scarifying the flavor or quality.

Ways to Reduce Fat While Cooking

© Trim all visible fat from meats and remove the skin off of the turkey.

© Drain the grease off of cooked meats before adding other ingredients.

© Sauté with broth instead of oil.

© Allow oil to get hot prior to adding ingredients. Foods soak up cold oil faster then they do hot.

© Making soups and strews in advance and skim the fat off that rises to the top. This is also good for making gravy as well.

© Cooking with herbs and spices will give your foods great flavor without extra calories or fat.

© Use only half the amount of cheese that your recipes call for.

© Roast, grill, steam, boil, broil, and baking are great cooking methods that offer the lowest amount of fat.

Ways to Reduce Fat and Increase Fibre when Baking

© Substitute skim milk or 1% in recipes requiring whole milk or cream.

© Substitute whole wheat flour for half of the white flour in recipes

© Use non-hydrogenated margarine instead of butter or shortening.

© Replace 1 whole egg with 2 egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute.

© Use 3Tbsp dry cocoa plus 1Tbsp oil instead of 1 ounce of baking chocolate.

© Replace one whole egg in the recipe with 1 Tbsp of ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tbsp of water.

© Replace half of the fat called for in the recipe with mashed banana, apple sauce or fat free yogurt.

© Use only half the amount of sugar that the original recipe calls for.

There are some tips I hope will help you this holiday season! Have a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

I have a favorite chocolate cookie recipe that I just love to make. It is so simple and it makes a lot of cookies. Usually I am always experimenting with different types of chocolate chips to put in them. I have used semi-sweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter chips, butterscotch and mint chocolate chips. Because I am a huge mint chocolate fan last Christmas I decided to see if crushed candy cane worked well in these cookies and of course I wasn't let down; they tasted delicious! This year I decided to alter the recipe just a little bit. Instead of adding crushed candy cane throughout the cookies I used mint extract in the recipe and then decorated the tops of the cookies with the crushed candy canes. I think they taste even better this way.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

1 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
1 cup white sugar*
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2-3 drops of mint extract (add more if you like more of a mint taste)
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of chocolate chips (Instead I used 1/2 cup of crushed candy cane for the top of the cookies)

1. Cream together margarine and sugar.

2. Beat in eggs and vanilla until mixed well. Add drops of mint extract.

3. Combine in a small bowl flour, cocoa, soda, salt.

4. Blend flour mixture into creamed mixture; mix well. If you were adding chocolate chips this is where you would do it. Works great if you mix with your hands.

5. Roll dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. Press dough down with palm of hand and add crushed candy canes to the top of the cookies.

6. Bake in pre-heated oven (350) for 8-10 minutes

Recipe yields 3-4 dozen cookies

*the original recipe calls for 2 cups but you can always half the amount of sugar in any recipe and still get the same results.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas Goodies

So now that it's December its time to post some Christmas Goodies that our family loves to make and eat during the holiday season. With the expectation of a new baby we have been doing some early Christmas baking to be sure that we will be ready for company over the holidays.

First the classic sugar cookie. This is a recipe that the Peterson's use and I find it's my favorite. You can decorate the cookies as much or as little as you like and they still taste yummy. It's been a tradition over the past couple of years to have people over to the house to decorate these cookies with us. Its so much fun to see different peoples creativity. This is also very fun to do as a family as kids usually love getting creative.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup margarine
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

1. Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Blend together the dry ingredients and mix into first mixture.

3. With hands form dough into 2-3 dough balls and chill in the fridge (15- 30 minutes). This makes the dough easier to roll out.

4. Roll the dough out on a well floured surface ( wax paper also works well but make sure it's well floured). Cut the dough with cookie cutters and place onto a cookie sheet.

5. Bake in Pre-heated oven (350) for 7-8 minutes.

Cookie Icing

2 Tbsp margarine
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1-2 tbsp canned milk
Coconut extract

Blend together butter and icing sugar. Then slowly add a little bit of canned milk at a time until you have a desired consistency.

Also this frosting taste so yummy when you add just a little drop of coconut extract to it. To make the different colors just put the icing into different bowls and add food coloring.

To top the cookies I love going to the bulk barn and picking up the sliver balls and sprinkles of every color.

The best part about these cookies is once the icing is on you can chill them in the fridge for a 10-15 minutes then you can store them in the freezer. When you have guest coming over just pull them out over the Christmas holidays, put them onto a plate and there you go...cookies in no time!

Hot Apple Cider

During our cookie making parties I usually always have a pot of hot apple cider going. I found this great recipe last year that is so quick and easy to make. I usually just throw all the ingredients into my crock pot and put it on high for a couple hours. Once the drink is nice and hot I just turn the crock pot down to low or even warm.

When selecting apple juice make sure you choose the unsweetened kind to keep the calories of this drink low.

Hot Apple Cider

8 cups apple juice or apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
2 allspice berries
1 whole nutmeg
1/2 orange peel, cut into strips
1/2 lemon peel, cut into strips

1. Pour apple juice into a large pot or crock pot.
2. Place spice into pot along with orange and lemon peels.
3. If cooking on the stove top bring to a boil and then reduce heat, or put into a crock pot on low or warm, to low to keep drink warm. If you are making in the crock pot, put on high for 2 hours to allow it to get hot. Then reduce heat to warm or low.

Chocolate Pretzels

Another favorite of ours around this time are chocolate pretzels. The past couple of years we have been making our own...because they are soooo easy to make.

Chocolate Pretzels

1-2 bags of pretzel sticks (try to get the long ones)
Any flavor chocolate chips! We usually use the dark chocolate and white chocolate

Toppings for Chocolate
Crushed candy canes
Crushed peanuts

1. Using a double boiler (or a pot with a metal bowl in it) melt the chocolate. Most chocolate melts fairly well but to get a nice dipping consistency try adding just a tsp-tbsp of shortening. I know that many of us think that adding water or milk will do the trick but trust me it doesn't work. It will only make the chocolate go lumpy instead of runny and smooth.

2. Dip the pretzels into the chocolate then roll in whatever toppings you would like. Because I am a huge mint chocolate lover I love the crushed candy canes on the top of my pretzels while others enjoy the sweet and salt taste of theirs coated with peanuts.

These can be placed in the fridge or freezer to allow to set and then brought out and enjoyed at any time.

Being the peanut butter addict I am you better believe that peanut butter balls are my all time Christmas favorite treat!

Last year my friend Maria and I got together to make these treats. We both used the same recipe, however she decided to make hers with all natural peanut butter instead of the Kraft. They turned out soooo yummy. So feel free to try to make some this year with the 100% just peanuts, it will cut down on the amount of saturated and trans fats are in the recipe. Also a lot of recipes for peanut butter balls call to use wax in the melted chocolate but just like for the pretzels shortening works much better but remember you only need a little bit to get the chocolate the right consistency. We found that the easiest way to dip these is by using chop sticks.

Peanut Butter Balls
1/4 cup margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 cups Rice Krisipies

1. Blend together butter and peanut butter.

2. Add in icing sugar and Rice Krispies.

3. With hands form into small balls (or whatever size you would like) and place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with wax paper.

4. Place in freezer for 20 minutes (we have found that this makes them easier to dip).

5. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler adding shortening as needed.

6. Dip and place on lined cookie sheet. Place in freezer to allow to settle.

These are also another treat that can be left in the freezer in a air tight container.
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