LET’S EAT PIE! – Amish-style Oatmeal Walnut Pie

 While I’d love to eat pie every day . . . I don’t for obvious reasons! However, we are teaching a pie class in the near future so I wanted to practice making crust! And, I’ve had my eye on an Amish recipe for Oatmeal-Walnut Pie. But, what to do so that we won’t eat the entire pie? Because if I make it, I will eat it! And, if I don’t, I’ll feel quite wasteful.
      Then I remembered the small pie pans that I discovered at a yard sale. So, we did share one (the Amish pie was delicious) and the other three are in the freezer . . . and so far I’ve resisted temptation.
     Although I found several varieties for oatmeal pie, this is the one I settled on; others used lots more butter. It is somewhat reminiscent of a pecan pie but not as rich. It would be good with ice cream or whipped cream but we ate it plain, warm out of the oven!

Amish-style Oatmeal Walnut Pie   Makes 4 small (5”) diameter pie pan or one 9” - 10” pie
Instead of using a standard pie crust,
I made four small ones.
¾ cup light corn syrup
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup milk (I used almond milk)
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup regular (old-fashioned) oats (quick-cooking would work, too)
½ cup walnut pieces
Prepared pie crust (9”-10” or use 4 small pie pans)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the syrup, brown sugar, milk, butter, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Stir in oats and nuts.
Oats and nuts are ready to be stirred into the batter.
3. Pour into prepared crust and secure strips of foil around the edge of the crusts to avoid overbrowning.
To avoid a potential oven mess, I placed the pies on a baking sheet.
Two of the four pies are secured with foil strips.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes; remove foil strips. Continue to bake another 20 minutes for smaller pies (about 30 more minutes for full sized pie) or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
5. Cool on wire rack. 

Crisp, crunchy and great for dips, salad toppers or with soup – Crunchy Bagel Chips

     Bagel chips are great! Since we make them ourselves, we control the fat content by using less oil than the commercial products contain. And, we make them with olive oil which makes them healthier, too.
     We were turned on to this recipe when Debbie Howie talked about bagel chips during an interview for my monthly cooking column in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle. She provided the basic recipe. I’ve added specifics.
     Use any kind of bagel – white holds up best when cutting but the whole grain varieties do provide additional nutritional benefits (they do crumble a bit more when sliced).

Crunchy Bagel Chips    
For every 2 unsliced bagels, use approximately . . .
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
A healthy sprinkle of garlic powder, if desired (or experiment with herbs or other seasonings)

1.     Cut bagels into thin (¼”- 3/8”) slices.
Barry begins by cutting the bagel in half crossway, using a serrated knife.
He positions the bagel half in the electric slicer and slices it into thin pieces --
some chips are round and some are oblong (see below).
If you don't have a slicer, simply use a sharp serrated knife.
2.     Combine olive oil and garlic powder in a large bowl. Add bagels and toss.
3.     Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet.
The bagel chips need to be spread out to bake properly.
4.     Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Avoid overbaking as the chips will become too hard!
Browned bagels just out of the oven!
5.     Cool and store in an airtight container.

Versatile Meatballs — Freeze up a batch and use them in a variety of ways.

This may not look like a meatball -
but it is! See details below —
Meatball Slicers on mini Sesame Buns.
Diane Litke served as Cafeteria Manager at Abilene High School during some of the same years that I taught there. She was always so willing to provide opportunities for my students to use commercial equipment, assist with quantity food preparation, and help sponsor field trips and projects. Diane also shared recipes such as this one for meatballs.
Although Diane often prepares BBQ Meatballs (recipe follows), she wrote, “Our daughter likes these meatballs so I make just a batch, cook and freeze them, then she fixes them however she likes.”
And, that’s what I do – make up a batch of basic meatballs, freeze them and then use them in a variety of ways . . . 

Basic Meatballs       Makes about 35 meatballs or 45 - 50
Diane uses a #30 dipper (equivalent to 2 1/5 Tbsp. or 1 to 1½ oz.) for a yield of 35 meatballs. For really large meatballs, she uses a #16 dipper (1/4 cup capacity or 2 to 2. ½ oz.). I use a #40 dipper (equivalent to 1 ½ Tbsp. or ¾ oz.) for a yield of 45 to 50.

1½ lbs. lean ground beef 
1 small (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 cup regular or quick oats
1 egg
½ cup finely chopped onion
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder

1.     Combine all ingredients and mix together  (avoid over mixing).
2.     Shape into balls.
3.     Place meatballs on a cookie sheet and insert in the freezer, just until frozen; remove frozen balls from cookie sheet and put in freezer proof bags and freeze until ready to use.
Shaped meatballs ready to go into freezer. I cover them with foil.
Once frozen, add the meatballs to a freezer bag -- the frozen balls will
retain their shape.
Be sure to label meatballs and add the date.
4.     Before Cooking:  arrange meatballs in baking dish and allow to thaw in refrigerator. 

Serve BBQ Meatballs as a main
dishor or as party fare!
Diane’s BBQ Meatballs
1 cup ketchup
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup finely chopped onion
Meatballs, thawed (see recipe above)

1.     Mix sauce ingredients together; stir until sugar is dissolved. 
2.     Pour over meatballs and bake 45 to 60 minutes at 350°. Although Diane's recipe doesn't mention this, I like to brown the meatballs in a little canola oil prior to adding the sauce and baking them (baking time can then be reduced to about 30 to 40 minutes).

Meatball Sliders – although you can certainly just use ground beef to make mini hamburger patties, seasoned meatball sliders are really packed with flavor.
Simply thaw as many meatballs (recipe above) as needed, and flatten on top of a hot grill. Cook until caramelized on one side; flip and caramelize remaining side. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serve on Sesame Seed Slider Buns.
Barry grills meatball sliders on a flat top grill.
Of course there are many other ways to use these meatballs . . . and I'll post some more or our favorite uses for them in the future.

Sesame Seed Slider Buns

Slip sliders into these mini
buns for a fun party food.
 Yum, yum, all-American hamburgers in miniature! They seem to be the rage, so we thought we'd better give them a try. For the patties I actually used a meatball recipe, making small meatballs that I froze. After thawing the amount we needed, Barry flattened them and cooked them on a flat top grill.  A two-bite burger definitely needs a small sesame-topped bun. Here’s what I came up with . . . 

Sesame Seed Slider Buns   Makes about 68 to 70 small buns (using a 1 7/8” cutter)
1 (¼ oz.) pkg. active dry yeast or 1 scant tablespoon
½ cup warm water (105 to 115°)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm milk (105 to 115°)*
1 cup warm water (105 to 115°)
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup vegetable or olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups of all-purpose flour
Approximately 3 to 4 cups bread flour or 3 cups white wheat flour and ¾ to 1 cup wheat flour
Glaze (options follow)
Sesame seeds

1.     Pour ½ cup of warm water into small bowl; sprinkle yeast over it. Add sugar and put aside until it begins to foam.
2.     Combine milk, 1 cup water, honey, oil and salt in a larger bowl or place in mixing bowl of large mixer with dough mixing capabilities (such as a Kitchen Aid®). Add foamy yeast to bowl.
3.     Add 1 cup of flour at a time until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (or stir in flour with a wooden spoon if not using a mixer). Note – near the end, add flour in about ½ cup increments so that you don’t get too much.
One cup of flour has been added
More  flour has been added;  dough is about ready to be kneaded.
4.     Knead for about 7 minutes, adding more flour if dough becomes sticky. Finished dough should be smooth and soft to the touch.
If using a mixer with a dough attachment, kneaded dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl.
This dough still needs a little more kneading and, needs a little more flour when it begins to feel sticky.
5.     Place the dough in a large, deep bowl sprayed with vegetable spray or brushed with oil, turn dough over to oil all surfaces. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place (80 ° is ideal); let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Dough has been shaped into a ball, oiled and put into one of Barry's handmade pottery bowls.
It will be covered with a towel while it rests for about an hour.
6.     Divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle, approximately 10” x 12” – dough should be about 3/8” thick.  
7.     Using a round cutter (1 7/8” diameter), cut dough; place on parchment lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. I re-rolled leftover dough and cut it, too — these buns will be somewhat irregular and not totally smooth on top. 
Dough has been rolled to about 3/8" thickness and is ready to  cut into small rounds.
8.     Once baking sheet is full, mist tops of buns with vegetable spray. Cover with a towel and let rise 30 to 35 minutes.
Buns are ready to be covered with a towel -- they will rest for 30 to 35 minutes
9.     Preheat oven to 350°.
10.  Glaze tops (see options below) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Rolls have risen slightly & were then  brushed with an egg white glaze & sprinkled with sesame seeds.
11.  Place baking sheets in preheated oven; bake until browned and puffed – about 15 to 20 minutes in a convection oven (allow a few minutes more if using conventional heat). Remove to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Buns are cooling. I like to put them in a freezer bag and hold them in freezer until we need them.
12.  Slice and use to sandwich a mini burger. Note: If if a few buns happen to be a little thick, just slice a section out of the center.
Note: Buns freeze well.

*Substitute 2 cups water for milk and water - add 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk to the flour

Glaze Options—brush tops of buns with
    1 egg yolk or 1 whole egg (or substitute egg substitute)
    Tablespoon(s) water, milk or cream

Perfect for lunch, too! Barry added cheese and served them with coleslaw.
Click here for our Meatball Slicer recipe.

Make ours “thin & crispy” – Pizza Crust & a couple of our favorite toppings . . .

Q. When and where was Pizza Hut® started?
A. Pizza Hut was founded in 1958 by brothers Dan and Frank Carney in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas.

     Barry and I can remember eating Pizza Hut pizza in the late 1960s in Hutchinson, Kansas. Ever since then we’ve been “thin and crispy” fans. Of course, that was the only option back then.
     Now, we general opt for pizza at home. I’ve experimented with several dough recipes. Then, several years ago a friend gave me the book Baking with Julia (written by Dorie Greensapan). Based on the PBS Master Chefs series hosted by Julia Child, the cookbook is full of wonderful recipes, explanations, tips and photographs. I’ve tried lots of the recipes including Chef Craig Kominiak’s Focaccia. The great thing about this recipe, it that the dough is mixed, refrigerated and then baked later. I had a batch of it in the refrigerator about the time I wanted to make pizza so it seemed logical to try it is place of the usual pizza dough.
     To achieve a “thin and crispy” crust I used just one-fourth of the focaccia dough, rolled it as thin as possible. It worked quite nicely and I can make just one pizza and then use the rest of the dough for either sweet or savory meal accompaniments or,  it can be split and used to make sandwiches.
     Craig Kominiak's focaccia recipe follows; I have interjecting my notes and photos about converting it to pizza dough and also added descriptions of some of our favorite pizza toppings.

Craig Kominiak’s Focaccia     Makes 3 focaccias (or 4 pizza crusts)
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 90°F) – divided use
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons salt

Focaccia Toppings
Herb-infused or other olive oil
Chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary and/or thyme (2 to 3 tablespoons)
Coarse sea salt

1.  Whisk ½ cup water and the yeast together in the bowl of a mixer. Set aside for 5 minutes until yeast dissolves and turns creamy. 
Yeast will bubble as it sets.
2.  Pour 1¾ cups warm water into a large measuring cup, add olive oil, and whisk to blend; set aside.
3.  Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
4.  Pour water-oil mixture over the yeast and whisk to blend. Add about half the flour, and stir with a rubber spatula to mix.
5.  Attach dough hook, add remaining flour, and mix on low for 3 minutes or until dough starts to come together. If the dough appears dry and a little stiff, add a few drops of warm water, scraping the bowl and hook if necessary to incorporate the water and create a soft dough. Increase mixer to medium-high and continue to mix for 10 minutes, scraping down hook and sides of bowl as needed, until  you have a soft, slightly moist, extremely elastic dough that cleans the sides of bowl. You will know the dough is properly mixed when a piece can be stretched without tearing to create a “window” in an almost transparent patch of dough.
When dough is properly mixed, it can be stretched without tearing.
6.  FIRST RISE —Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, turn it to cover with oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1½  hours.
7.  SECOND RISE — Fold dough down on itself to deflate and let rise again until doubled and billowy, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
8.  SHAPING & REFRIGERATING — Fold dough over on itself again to deflate and turn it out onto a work surface. Using a metal dough scraper or a knife, cut dough into 3 equal pieces (I cut it into 4 pieces for pizza). Shape each piece into a ball, and place each ball in an oiled gallon-size lock-top plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 24 hours—the time needed to set the bubbly structure in place. (Since pizza dough does not need that bubbly structure, I have made the dough, refrigerated it a couple of hours and proceeded with the next step.)
9.  1½ HOURS BEFORE BAKING — About 1½ hours before you plan to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and take out of oiled bags. Place on a lightly floured surface, dust tops of balls with flour, and cover loosely but completely with plastic. Let rest 1 hour.
10. BAKING — Position oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and dust with cornmeal; set baking sheets aside. Fill a spray bottle with water and set aside. (425° - 450’ for pizza.)
a.  Focaccia — Press down gently on each piece of dough, causing bubbles to appear on the sides, then slit the bubbles with a single-edge razor to release the gases. Gently pull and stretch each piece of dough into a 10” square. Let the dough relax, covered, for 10 minutes. Transfer foccacias to the baking sheets. Use a single-edge razor to slash each square, cutting a tic-tac-toe pattern. Brush foccacias with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh herbs and coarse sea salt, and put them into heated oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden with a heavy speckling of small surface bubbles, spraying the oven with water three times during the first 8 minutes of baking. As soon as you remove the focaccias from the oven, brush them with a little additional olive oil and transfer them to a rack to cool before serving.

b.  Pizza — (Using ¼ of the refrigerated dough mixture) Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a thin circle (or thick if you prefer).
Tranfer to pizza pan and stretch dough to fit; trim off extra dough on the edges, if needed. Add your favorite topping at this point (do NOT let it rise again at this point) and bake in a preheated 425° to 450° oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is nicely browned and crisp.
A pizza pan with holes allows for good heat circulation and results in a crisp crust.
Mold dough to pan and trim off any excess crust.

A couple of our favorite toppings:
·   Sausage-Veggie Pizza: Mild sausage, mushroom & black olives. Before adding these toppings we sometimes spread the crust with a thin layer of tomato sauce to which we add Italian seasoning. Other times we spread the crust with a thin layer of basil &/or dried tomato pesto. Cheese toppings: Mozzarella &/or Parmesan; Cheddar works well, too. Drizzle with olive oil before baking.
·   Chicken-Spinach Pizza: Cook ground chicken with onions in a little olive oil; add a handful or two of spinach leaves and cook to wilt. Spread crust with a thin layer of hummus; distribute cooked chicken mixture and arrange strips of roasted red peppers over pizza; top with grated Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with additional olive oil before baking. (This is the pizza pictured at the top of this post.)

Related Posts:
Pepperoni Pizzaz Pizza
Pesto & Pizza

Good Anytime -- Gingerbread Pancakes

     Loaded with the predominant flavors of gingerbread, these pancakes certainly spice up any breakfast menu. Joann Hettenbach shared this recipe when I interviewed her for my monthlty food column that runs in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle (June 2009; also reprinted in the 8th edition of the Dickinson County “Home Cooking” cookbook sold at the Heritage Center). The recipe original came from the Magnolia Café in Austin, Texas; Joann discovered it in the December 2006 edition of Gourmet Magazine.
    Although they are good anytime of the year, Gingerbread Pancakes are an integral part of the lavish Christmas brunch produced in the Hettenbach household. The brunch project has forever been a family team effort with Joann and  Paul coordinating the effort. But their grown children, Andra, Stacia and David, alos pitch in to help.
Stir a bowl of gingerbread pancakes,
smooth and spicy brown . . .

Gingerbread Pancakes      Serves 6
Active time: 30 min. start to finish
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brewed coffee (not espresso)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Vegetable oil for bushing griddle

1.     Preheat oven to 200º (the warm mode).
2.     Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and brown sugar in another bowl until smooth.
3.     Whisk in buttermilk, water, and coffee until combined, then add to flour mixture, whisking until combined. Whisk in melted butter.
4.     Heat a dry griddle or large heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot enough to make drops of water scatter over its surface, then brush with oil.
Rather than using oil, Barry misted the griddle with pan spray.
5.     Working in batches, fill a ¼ cup measure with batter for each pancake, then pour onto griddle and cook, turning over once, until deep golden, about 2 to 3 minutes per batch. 
6.     Transfer to a heatproof platter and keep warm in oven until ready to serve. 
Make Ahead -- Combine dry ingredients ahead; add wet ingredients and proceed with recipe.

What to do with the leftover pancakes?
Barry heated leftover pancakes (in the microwave),
spread them with a little honey mustard and sandwiched
 ham slices between two of them for an instant lunch!

Peanut Buter Cookie Bites (a diabetic recipe)

     Although I am not a proponent of artificial sweeteners, I needed to prepare a sugar-free cookie for someone with diabetes. Of course there are pros and cons of products such as Splenda® and, I found several interesting articles online; “Are sugar substitutes bad for you?” seems to address both sides of the issue. 
     Although I am drawn to sweet treats and desserts, my overall motto is “moderation is the key,” and I try to limit sweets to special occasions or to those situations where that I can share the treats with others.
     I found the recipe that follows on the Splenda® site and then made a few adjustments (they are underlined). The original recipe also incorporated honey – I removed it and, found the cookies to be sweet enough without the addition; but. I did increase the butter by one tablelspoon.
     Although the Splenda® site offers recipes, there are times when someone may want to adapt a favorite recipe to use an artificial sweeteners. For tips, click on Cooking and Baking with Splenda®. On a further note, several years ago when a family member was diagnosed with diabetes, I found a reference saying that Splenda® can be substituted “cup for cup” for sugar. This time, around, however, I could not find that addressed on their site, so I contacting McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, makers of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Granulated  – the company’s Email response is included at the end of the recipe.

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites      Makes two dozen
5 tablespoons margarine or butter softened  
1 cup natural creamy-style peanut butter
Mix 1 Tbsp. flax seed meal with 3 Tbsp. water,
whisk together & let set for several minutes.
This is equivalent to one the 1/4 cup egg s
ubstitute called for in the recipe.
¼ cup egg substitute or, use 1 tablespoon flax seed meal and 3 tablespoons water 
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Splenda® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

1.     Preheat oven to 350°.
2.     Beat margarine (or butter) and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamy, approximately 1 minute.
3.     Add egg substitute, honey and vanilla. Beat on high speed for approximately 1½ minutes.
4.     Add Splenda® Granulated Sweetener and beat on medium speed until well blended, approximately 30 seconds.
5.     Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small mixing bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, beating on low speed until well-blended, about 1½ minutes. Mixture may be crumbly.

6.     Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls (I used a tablespoon-capacity dipper) and drop onto a lightly oiled or parchment lined sheet pan, 2” apart. Flatten each ball with a fork, pressing a crisscross pattern into each cookie. Bake 12 minutes or until light brown around the edges.

7.     Cool on wire rack.

Response from McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, makers of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Granulated:  
     SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Granulated delivers the same sweetness as sugar on a volume basis. It can be used cup-for-cup and spoon-for-spoon in place of sugar in most recipes where sugar is used as a sweetener. This would include recipes such as muffins, quick breads, puddings, pie fillings and beverages. SPLENDA® Granulated works best in recipes where the main role is to provide a sweet taste. For example, SPLENDA ® Granulated  works well in custards, fruit or custard pie filling, cheesecake, cobblers, sweet sauces, marinades, glazes, salad dressings, shakes and sorbets. It also works well in quick breads, muffins, cookies and pies.  
     For candy, fudge and some other recipes, sugar not only sweetens, but also contributes to the structure and volume of the finished product. In recipes where the amount of sugar is quite high and sugar plays many other roles in the product's structure and texture, such as meringues, caramel, pecan pie and angel food or pound cakes, complete substitution of SPLENDA® Granulated for all sweeteners may not yield optimal results. In these types of recipes, use SPLENDA® Sugar Blend. SPLENDA® Sugar Blend is a mix of SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener and pure sugar. It acts more like pure sugar - it rises, spreads, browns, and helps retain moisture in baked goods.
     Our kitchen has developed dozens of delicious recipes available at www.splenda.com or by calling 1-800-7-SPLENDA (specialists available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m - 8:00 p.m. EST). Our recipes are all developed for optimal results and require no modification. 

Additional cooking and baking information:
1.     Volume/Height  Sugar contributes volume to many recipes. When baking cakes, switching from 9" round pans to 8" rounds pans with 2" sides will help achieve a high cake. You may also try adding 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every 1 cup of SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener.
2.     Creaming —When creaming butter or margarine with SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, your mixture will appear less smooth than with sugar and may separate upon the addition of eggs. This is normal.
3.     Texture — Sugar can play an important role in texture.  Cookies often rely on brown sugar for their chewy, crunchy texture. Therefore, replace only the white granulated sugar in your cookie recipes.  In jams, jellies, puddings and custards, sugar lends a thickening quality. With SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, these recipes may be slightly thinner or soft set.
4.     Flavor — You may wish to enhance the flavor in cookies, puddings and custards by adding an additional ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract per cup of SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener.
5.     Moistness — Sugar helps to keep baked-goods moist. In muffins and quick breads, the addition of one-two tablespoons of honey and molasses will help retain some moistness and provide flavor.
6.     Yeast Activation — SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener will not activate yeast.  Maintain at least two teaspoons of sugar in recipes calling for yeast and replace the remaining sugar with SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener.
7.     Spread — Cookies often rely on sugar to spread. Should you substitute all the sugar for SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener in your cookie recipe, you may need to flatten your cookies before baking.
8.     Browning — Baked goods made with little or no sugar do not brown like recipes made with sugar.  To help achieve a more golden brown color when baking with SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, lightly spray the batter or dough with cooking spray just before placing in the oven.
9.     Bake Time — Recipes made with SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener may bake more quickly than those made with sugar. Check your baked goods for doneness a bit earlier than the original recipe states.  
a.     Cakes:  check 7-10 minutes before stated bake time
b.     Cookies, Brownies and Quick Breads: check 3-5 minutes before stated bake time. 
10.  Storage — Baked goods made with SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener will stay fresh for 24 hours, when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If you wish to keep your baked goods longer, wrap well and freeze. Consult a sugarless canning cookbook for instructions on sugarless canning.

All This Packed in One Frosty Glass -- Chai Almond Smoothie

I love smoothies for breakfast. My usual in a Chocolate Breakfast Shake, but this one, laced with spices, is also really good and good for you.

·      *Bananas are a good source of potassium.
·     * Almond Milk has 50% more calcium than regular milk and contains just 60 calories per one cup (compared to skim milk at 90 calories per cup).
·      *Flax Meal is full of fiber and it helps reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.
·     * Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, soothes the stomach, and helps lower cholesterol levels.
·      *Cinnamon can help lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol.
·     * Cardamon aids digestion.
·      *Nutmeg  -- Studies show that it can help lower blood pressure and sooth a stomach ache.
·      *Vanilla - Vanillin, the active component of vanilla, has been shown to have antioxidant properties.

Chai Almond Smoothie
1 banana
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon ground flax meal (I use golden flax meal)
1 to 1½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger (good for nausea or upset stomaches)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.     Put banana, milk, flax meal, spices and extract into blender. Add lid and blend until well mixed.
2.     Stop blend; add ice (about 1/3 of a glass) and blend until ice is finely chopped and frosty. Sprinkle additional nutmeg on top and ENJOY!
Note: Add agave or honey -- just enough to sweeten, if needed. (Personally, I don’t think it needs extra sweetener.)

Everything but the Kitchen Sink — Chicken & Kale Soup

     I had no intention of posting this recipe so I did not take photos along the way. Needed to use some chicken breasts that had been in the freezer and the kale in the fridge.
     We really didn't add everything but the kitchen sink . . . but it seemed kind of like that at the time. Although we assumed the soup would be edible, we did not expect the final results. The aroma was enticing and it tasted VERY good!
     Here’s the problem—I started it, Barry added to it, I added more to it! But, we put our heads together and think we have captured the essentials.

Chicken & Kale Soup
2 chicken breasts, bone-in
Seasonings for cooking the chicken breasts – I used 3 sprigs of rosemary, 1 large bay leaf and about ½ tsp. of poultry seasoning, salt & pepper (vary it according to your preference)
Kale – about ½ to ¾ of a bunch -- about 1½ to 2 cups when prepared (step 2)
½ of a medium onion, diced
1½ carrots, chunked or diced
1 medium turnip, diced
Additional chicken broth or stock, if needed
Additional seasoning: 1 tsp. seasoning salt, 1 tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. curry + additional salt & pepper if needed (seems like a rather strange combo but that’s what happens with two cooks watching the soup pot . . . but, it works for us)
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), undrained

1.  Cover the chicken breasts with water; add the seasonings. Bring to a boil and turn down heat; simmer until chicken is tender. Remove bones and shed or cut meat into bite-sized pieces.
2.  Rinse the kale; remove the leafy greens from the tough stem and tear or chop and toss into the soup.
     Click here for instructions on kale preparation and nutritional info.
3.  Add the other chopped veggies.
4.  If needed, add additional chicken broth – we did need to add more as we wanted about 4 to 5 cups of total cooking liquid.
5.  Add additional seasonings of your choice (see our notes above) and simmer until all of the veggies are tender.
6.  Add can of undrained cannellini beans and heat thoroughly.