Category:  Fun Foods

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Fruit n’ Nut Oatmeal Bars (Sugarless & Vegan)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Fun Foods On November 8, 2013 2 Comments

Do you usually crave something sweet with that afternoon coffee, cappuccino, latte or tea? If you’re like me, then you want sweets at all hours of the day. I created these healthy treats in an effort to avoid dairy products, eggs and sugar.

The moist texture of these bars is derived from the maple syrup and honey. Cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg are added to make these bars scrumptious, healthy and vegan. Serve these Fruit n’Nut Oatmeal Bars to your kids – guilt-free!

Prep time: 8 to 10 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash grated nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup safflower oil (this can be substituted with canola or sunflower oil)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8 X 8-inch baking dish (alternatively, you can use a rectangular dish measuring approximately 7 X 10 inches).

2. In a 3 or 4-quart mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, spices, cranberries and walnuts.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

4. Add the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla to the well in center of the dry ingredients.

5. Mix thoroughly and transfer mixture to the greased baking dish.

6. With your hand, pat down the mixture so that it is even from center to sides of baking dish.

7. Transfer the baking dish to a rack positioned in center of oven.

8. Bake for 25 minutes or until the oatmeal mixture looks golden brown.

9. After 25 minutes, transfer the baking dish to a counter to cool.

10. When completely cool, cut bars to measure 2 X 2 inches and serve.

To store in refrigerator: transfer Fruit n’ Nut Oatmeal Bars to a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. The bars will keep, refrigerated, up to two weeks.

To freeze: transfer Fruit n’Nut Oatmeal Bars to double, plastic, freezer bags and seal completely. The bars will keep, frozen, up to one month.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Jicama, Watermelon & Cantaloup Salad

In Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods, Salads On August 30, 2013 4 Comments

The idea for this salad sort of sparked when I noticed how boring the jicama, watermelon and cantaloup looked on my kitchen counter.

I was surprised at how delicious and beautiful it all turned out. On our upcoming Labor Day weekend and after all that grilled meat, enjoy this salad as a refreshing fruit course. Stay safe and enjoy the holiday!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3 cups peeled and julienned jicama (one 5-inch jicama or less)
4 cups julienned watermelon
3 cups julienned cantaloup
2 to 3 green onions, dark green tips discarded
Juice from 1 lime
Drizzle of honey (optional)

Directions:

1. Place the julienned jicama, watermelon and cantaloup in a bowl; toss lightly with lime juice.

2. Slice the white and light green parts of the onions and add them to the jicama mixture in bowl.

3. If desired, drizzle with honey and serve immediately.

Note: This salad is great as a fruit course or a snack.

Text and Photographs ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Caprese Salad with Basil Almond Pesto

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Salads On July 12, 2012 0 Comments

The classic Caprese Salad consists of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and basil leaves. I’ve changed this recipe because I like tweaking and creating new recipes.

My version has some fresh pesto sandwiched between the tomato and mozzarella. There are no words or emotions to describe the luscious flavors of this Caprese with Basil Almond Pesto!

Prep time: 7 to 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 to 3 ripe tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
salt and pepper, to taste
6 to 8 teaspoons Basil Almond Pesto (found in our Recipes, under “Salad Dressings, Salsas & Savory Sauces)
1 pound fresh mozzarella balls (these are called “bocconcini” or small bites)
4 to 6 large, fresh basil leaves

1. Slice the tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices and lay on a serving platter.

2. Drizzle the oil over tomato slices, followed by salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Spread 1 teaspoon Basil Almond Pesto on each tomato slice.

4. Drain all water from the mozzarella bocconcini and, on a cutting board, gently cut them in half.

5. Lay each one, flat side down, over the pesto and tomato (the rounded side of bocconcini should be face-up).

5. Drizzle some olive oil over each tomato-bocconcini component, followed by salt and pepper, to taste.

6. Cut the basil leaves in slivers and use them to decorate the plate or to decorate the salad.

Enjoy as a starter or salad course.

Text and Photograph © 2012 Nancy DeLucia Real.

July 4th Sorbet with Balsamic Cream®

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fun Foods, Holidays On July 2, 2012 0 Comments

We’re celebrating Independence Day on Wednesday, July 4th. It’s so nice to have a break from work mid-week. And I mean ALL WORK, including the kitchen.

Along that line, I thought I’d end my holiday cookout by scooping some sorbet or ice cream onto a plate, adding a drizzle of Balsamic Cream®, followed by a garnish of berries. That’s as hard as I’ll work for this July 4th Sorbet with Balsamic Cream® recipe.

Enjoy and stay safe!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
One pint raspberry sorbet (vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt can be substituted)
Balsamic Cream® (also known as Crema di Balsamico®)*
Strawberries, for garnish
Blueberries, for garnish
8 sprigs mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

1. Place a scoop of sorbet on each of 4 individual bowls or dessert plates.

2. Add a drizzle of Balsamic Cream® and garnish with strawberries, blueberries and mint leaves.

3. Serve immediately.

*Balsamic Cream® can be purchased at Wholefoods Stores® or online at Amazon.com®.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Taralli (Italian Pretzels)

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods On June 5, 2012 0 Comments

Taralli are Southern Italian pretzels or breadsticks that are sometimes served with cheese, olives, prosciutto, mortadella, salami and, last but not least, wine.

This taralli recipe includes traditional fennel seeds and red wine. Oh yes – pour that “vino” right into the mixing bowl. After the O-shaped taralli are boiled and baked, they’ll surprise you with a bold flavor and crunchy finish.

Vegetarians, pair these funky taralli with cukes, tomatoes, salads and – you got it –  wine! 

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 30 to 40 minutes
Makes: 15 to 20 taralli

Ingredients:
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground, black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds (also called “anise seeds”)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 large egg
1/8 cup red wine
1/8 cup cold water
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the salt, pepper, fennel seeds, flour and baking powder; set aside.

2. Fill an 6-quart sauce pot 2/3 full with water and set it on a cold stove burner (to be turned on when taralli dough has been shaped into circles).

3. In a 5 to 6-quart mixing bowl or in a stand mixer, stir together the egg, wine, water and olive oil.  Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until a dough forms. Turn the dough onto a flat and lightly-floured surface. Gently knead the dough for 2 minutes.

4. Pull away a two-inch ball from the dough. Roll the dough on the flat surface and shape it into a 5-inch log (the log should be 1/2-inch thick). 

5. Shape the log into a circle and press to close. Lay the circle, or tarallo, aside on flat surface or on a plate (not floured). Continue shaping remaining dough into taralli, laying them aside on the plate.

6. Bring the water in sauce pot to a boil. Gently drop two to 3 taralli into the boiling water and cook until they come up to the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. 

7. With a slotted spoon, transfer the boiled taralli to a platter for draining (do not lay taralli  on paper towels or they will stick). Boil the remaining taralli and repeat draining instructions.

8. Transfer the boiled and drained taralli on a parchment-lined 18×12-inch baking sheet. Place baking sheet with taralli on a rack positioned in center of preheated oven.

9. Bake taralli for 15 to 20 minutes. 

10. After 15 to 20 minutes, turn the taralli over and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until both sides are golden brown.

11. Remove the baking sheet with taralli from oven. Transfer taralli to a glass or porcelain platter or a cooling rack.

12. Enjoy taralli warm or at room temperature.

Storing instructions: Place cooled taralli in double plastic freezer bags. Freeze taralli up to one month. 

To thaw: Remove taralli from freezer bags. Place them on a platter and allow taralli to come to room temperature. Place taralli on a baking sheet in a preheated 375°F oven and warm them for 5 minutes.

Wine Pairing Suggestion:  Southern Italian reds such as Aglianico (from Naples) or Nero d’Avola (from Sicily).

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real