Fluffy Chocolate Yogurt with Chocolate Granola

I’m always on the lookout for healthy-yet-yummy snacks or desserts for us.  I don’t usually buy packaged items at the grocery store, but whenever we pass the Jell-O section at the grocery store Josiah says “jelly! jelly!” (he can’t seem to get the “o” on the end).  I sometimes let them pick one of the sugar-free varieties, and last week we picked one out and I got some whipping cream to make fresh whipped cream (though I almost got lazy and bought Cool Whip).

We had some leftover whipped cream after using up the Jell-O and then I remembered a recipe for Chocolate Delight Yogurt that I had pinned a while ago while on the lookout for yogurt ideas.  It’s just one recipe among a slew of other yummy yogurt concoctions like Red Grapes with Nut Butter Yogurt DipBanana Nut Butter Honey YogurtBanana Split Yogurt and Mint Chocolate Chip Yogurt.

So I mixed some homemade yogurt with homemade chocolate syrup then folded in the leftover whipped cream (in a 1:1 ratio with the yogurt – probably a cup or so of each).  The night before I made a batch of chocolate granola (using the greater amount of oats and less sweetener), which I sprinkled on top of the yogurt – soooo goooo!  The kiddos and I gobbed it all up.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Oatmeal

I first fell in love with Chocolate Covered Katie‘s healthy desserts when I stumbled upon her Fudge Babies recipe and decided to whip up a batch.  And proceeded to eat them all.  I’ve since been making my way through her recipes, and let me tell you, I have not been disappointed. 

I’m not a big fan of oatmeal – I just can’t get past the texture – but when I saw her recipe for Coconut Cookie Dough Oatmeal, I knew I had to try it for the kiddos and myself.  Since I wanted to make three portions, I multuplied the original recipe times three and made my own little tweaks.  Here’s my version: 

1 1/2c old-fashioned oats
2T coconut palm sugar (or rapadura, maple syrup, or other natural sugar)
3/4c unsweetened applesauce
1t vanilla extract
3/4c milk (combination buttermilk & almond milk)
3T melted coconut oil
2T unsweetened shredded coconut
handful of dark chocolate chips

In the past, I’ve had better success with the texture of the oatmeal when I’ve soaked the oats overnight, so I did the same here.  I mixed the oats with the milk(s) and let it sit on the counter overnight (if using milk other than buttermilk, I would put it in the fridge).  In the morning, I added the other ingredients, put it in a small casserole, and baked it for 10-15 minutes in my little convection toaster oven set around 375.  

This was a huge success – definitely a keeper in my book!  I topped it with a little extra coconut milk to cool it off for the kiddos and they gobbled it right down.  Nothing like starting the day off with chocolate! 

I’d love to try this with coconut milk and coconut extract to make it really coconut-y, and maybe some chopped almonds to make it Almond Joy Oatmeal – yum!

Chocolate Banana Tapioca Pudding

I. Love. Dessert.  Now that I’m eating more healthily and shunning white sugar, I need to be more careful in the desserts I choose to make.  Growing up, I couldn’t stand tapioca pudding, but when I discovered that Phil is a fan I decided to make it for him.  When I tasted it, I thought, this isn’t half bad!

Lately I’ve been making tapioca with a combination of coconut milk and almond milk, since I’m trying not to use milk these days.  I noticed a variation of chocolate tapioca on the side of the box, and decided to try and make chocolate banana pudding for the kiddos (and me, duh). 

Here is the basic chocolate recipe from the Kraft website.  I could probably tweak my version, but it tastes yummy as-is, kinda dark chocolatey.      

1 egg
2 cups  milk (coconut, almond, or a mix)
1/2 cup sugar (1/4c brown, 1/4c no-cal sweetener)
3T Minute Tapioca
3 sq./oz. dark chocolate 
1 ripe banana
1t vanilla
*optional: 3 T natural peanut butter

egg, milk, sugar and tapioca with wire whisk in medium saucepan until well blended; let stand 5 min. Add chocolate.

BRING to full rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Mash in banana and add vanilla.  Stir in peanut butter, if using.

COOL 20 min. (Pudding thickens as it cools.) Stir. Serve warm or chilled. Stir before serving.

EDIT: This was so good the next day after it had been chilled, and topped with homemade whipped cream. Yum!  And I decided I like dark chocolate instead of the unsweetened, but you could substitute whatever.

Chocolate-Cherry Bread

Time for another recipe! I got the original version from a Rachael Ray magazine, and fell in love with the idea of combining chocolate and cherries.  I’m sure I could healthify this even more, but I mainly played around with the flour, sugar, and cherries.  I also added chocolate chips, and decided to bake this in a square pan, rather than a loaf pan.  You could take it a step further and try adding flaxseed or other grains, yogurt or applesauce instead of the sour cream, and other types of fat besides butter.  But without further ado, here’s my version.  I think it tastes like a not-too-sweet chocolate cake.

Chocolate-Cherry Bread
1 3/4c flour (1c wheat, 3/4c white)
1/3c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2t baking powder
1/2t salt
1/4t baking soda
1 12oz bag frozen pitted cherries, thawed
1/4c brown sugar
1/2c sour cream
3 large eggs
6T melted butter
1/4c semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9″ square baking pan.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

2.  In a small saucepan, combine half of the cherries and the sugar.  Using a potato masher, crush the cherries and cook over medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.  Whisk in sour cream and eggs.  Stir in the flour mixture.

3.  Chop remaining cherries and fold into batter.  Gradually stir in melted butter.  Lastly, add the chocolate chips.  Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until tester comes out clean.  Note: I didn’t time this, and just noted when the sides pulled slightly away from the pan and it tested done – maybe half an hour?  I turned the oven off and left it in for a while, since the first time I made it the center was slightly undone.

Homemade Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows

This year I’m doing an advent calendar with Gwendolyn, and yesterday’s activity was to make homemade marshmallows.  I’ve made peppermint ones before to give with Christmas cookie trays, and it’s a simple enough process – although I am always slightly wary of any recipe in which a candy thermometer is utilized.  Gwendolyn’s job was to mix the cocoa with water (then set aside to mix in at the end of the recipe); pour water, vanilla, and gelatin into another bowl; add water, sugar, and corn syrup to a pan on the stove; and let’s not forget the most important task: licking the beaters.  Before it sets into chewy marshmallow, it’s like marshmallow fluff.  Heavenly. 

The recipe I used this time around is a chocolate swirl variation of the Basic Vanilla Marshmallows from Brownie Points Blog.  I am not a huge fan of plain marshmallows, but love putting them in hot cocoa, s’mores, and other recipes.  I am dying to try some of the other varieties, like strawberry, or substituting brown sugar for white to give it a caramel flavor.  Some of the readers suggested toasted coconut, which sounds divine.  *sigh*  Why did I give up sugar? 

Anyhoo, today’s advent calendar activity is “Drink hot chocolate,” and I decided to make homemade hot chocolate to go along with the homemade marshmallows.  I opened up my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and made a variation of their simple recipe for hot chocolate.  I halved the ingredients since I didn’t want to end up drinking all the leftovers myself. 

Hot Chocolate
1/3c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3c sugar
4c milk (I used mainly unsweetended coconut milk)
In a medium saucepan combine chocolate chips, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the milk.  Cook and stir over medium heat till mixture just comes to boiling.

Stir in remaining milk; heat through.  Do not boil.  Remove from heat.  I didn’t do this, but you can also beat the mixture with a rotary beater till frothy.  Other variations include Hot Mocha in which you add 1T instant coffee crystals to the chocholate mixture, Spiced Hot Chocolate in which you add 1/2t ground cinnamon and 1/4t ground nutmeg to the chocolate mixture, and Low-Fat Hot Cocoa in which you substitute 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder for the chocolate and use skim milk.

The hot chocolate was a big hit with the kiddos.  And of course we saved some for Daddy.

dinner with dobos

i had my family over for dinner last night; i had been raving about the chinese dinner we had on valentine’s day and wanted to make it for them. the fried rice had issues – i tried brown rice, thinking it would be more authentic… and the only thing it helped it be more of was mushy. it didn’t help that my sister – bringing the asparagus, mind you, thank goodness it doesn’t take long to cook – was late, so the food was just sitting on the stove. =sigh=

it was fun, though. my mom was the first to arrive, and i put her to work helping me cut some chicken and stir some of the items – she was a good sport, a lifesaver! the wontons took forever to wrap because i didn’t have nikki to help me. hehe. and i discovered there was a rip in the bag, so some of the wrappers were dried out – i was kind of upset about that. oh well. i tried a new peanut dipping sauce to go along with them – soooo good! i’m afraid i ate a bunch of the leftover results this afternoon with some tortilla chips.

and now for the other item whose leftovers i par… partook? i made the infamous dobos torte, a recipe from the same book i used to make the dessert on v day. it came out *really* nicely, although the picture on that website is somewhat different from mine. my frosting was darker in color (even though i used one stick less of butter!), and i chopped white chocolate to press into the sides, and propped up the caramel triangles with broken pieces of peanut brittle i happened to have in the cupboard. it didn’t taste quite as well as it looked – but it was still fun to make.

needless to say – i had an evening and another afternoon of utter indulgence. aaarrrgh! i had been doing so well counting calories and picking healthy meals… and while some of my meals are still fine, others are pushing me way past my limit, well over 2,000. then my boss’s wife gave me a plate of valentine candies – i started with one, nibbling it daintily to make it last, and ended up scarfing down a few more over a couple hours. and since i’ve been busy, and tired to boot, i’ve stopped doing my exercise tapes. i need motivation! it was so nice to exercise outside on one of those warm days recently… but now it’s back to frickin’ freezing outside. eh, i have other excuses on my list – and the point is that it’s not getting done.

my favorite breakfast of the moment: 1/3-2/3 c upcountry multigrain pancake & waffle mix, 1/4 eggbeaters/better ‘n’ eggs, enough sugar-free calorie-free caramel flavored syrup to reach desired consistency. after the pancakes are done, top with a mixture of 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 tablespoon ff cool whip, and some more of the caramel syrup. ohmigosh, it tastes so good!

5 strange habits of mine

philip would probably say, “only five?” maybe i should ask him for some input. i’m afraid there might be things about me that i’m so used to doing, they’re “normal” for me.

1. whenever i get a gift from someone, i circle the house until i find the “perfect spot.” i will hold it up to the wall, put it on a shelf, shake my head and try another spot. philip just sits back and laughs. aloud. some people think i’m ocd in this respect, but that’s just silly.

2. i am constantly rearranging the furniture. and the decorations. i get bored!

3. apparently i should like red chowder, because i’m from rhode island… but i don’t. i prefer white or clear. and i pick the clams out of clamcakes. let’s just say i’m not a huge seafood fan in general (although i love salmon and scallops, and sometimes shrimp). (pause) guess that’s not really a “habit,” but oh well.

4. i love chocolate – especially with different flavors in the centers. i’ll get a box of russel stovers or something similar, and start eating my way through it. i’ll bite into half, look at it while i thoughtfully chew, and put it back if i don’t like it.

5. i’m paranoid about car problems. whenever i hear a funny noise, my face gets all hot and i swear my car is going to fall apart, the sides will come off, and i’ll be stuck driving around in this dinky metal frame. hehe.