Tag Archives: chocolate chips

Fun Friday: Cook once, eat twice. After school snacks and breakfast

26 Sep
These were healthy and a huge hit. Definitely a keeper.

These were healthy and a huge hit. Definitely a keeper.


Cook once, eat twice.

I love that old adage. You cook once, and live on the leftovers. Or, you make double, since you’re cooking anyway, and have twice as much.

Either way, I like it.

I’ve been living on that theme all week long.

I’ve been a cooking machine this week, in between my own work hours, trying to deal with our crazy school year schedules, and making sure that we maintain a healthy eating lifestyle at the same time.

Really, just making sure everyone’s got something to eat when it’s time to eat.

However, one thing I really enjoy doing is making great after school snacks for my kids whenever I can. Everyone has something that makes them happy, and I think I’ve inherited my grandparents’ genes. My dad always said that my grandmother was happiest when everyone was eating.

If everyone is eating, they’re happy, and that makes me happy.

To me, as a mom, there is nothing more special than the moment the kids walk in the door from school. They’re tired, they’re hungry, they’ve got more work to do or places to go, but the look on their faces when they smell a snack fresh out of the oven or see it on the table is priceless to me.

I feel like I have the ability to make their day, every day. Or almost every day. I do the best I can. Later on in life, I want their memories of their school years to include coming in from school, and finding me there with something tasty for them to snack on. Some days I’m not even there, my schedule is not always consistent, but I’ve left them a tasty snack and a note on my way out the door.

To me, it’s things like that which make all the difference.

Everyone loves these whether for breakfast or after school or a meal on the run.

Everyone loves these whether for breakfast or after school or a meal on the run.

Additionally, I try to think smarter these days. If I’m going to make an after school snack, I might as well make enough of it to last for more than just one afternoon. I have tried to make things that can be used either as lunchbox snacks or as breakfast the next day.

These little mini quiches, or however you’d describe them, make a great after school snack. They’re healthy and you can make all different varieties to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. This time I did tomato/egg/cheese, spinach/egg/cheese and just plain egg/cheese. Fifteen eggs made 16 good-sized cups.

They were a snack and they’ve been breakfast or lunch throughout the week as well.

The pumpkin muffins, pictured above, I doubled the recipe to make twice as many. They served as an after school snack, breakfast the next day and a lunchbox snack the day after that.

If I’m going to work hard, I might as well get the mileage out of my efforts.

On that same afternoon this week as the pumpkin muffins, I also made a big batch of homemade applesauce. If I’m going to stand there and peel three pounds of apples, I might as well peel six pounds (although I have to stop there or my hand aches from all the peeling and slicing).

I used one batch in a recipe that night, froze two batches in my freezer for future use, and had some leftover to serve on the side with dinner as well. There’s nothing like homemade applesauce, especially in the fall in New England.

Today, I’m going to share with you the recipe I found for these delicious pumpkin muffins. Note that the recipe calls for mini chocolate chips. I don’t *do* mini chocolate chips. If I’m going, I’m going all the way so mine had regular-sized chips. Otherwise, the recipe I made was the same, just doubled.

This recipe is not my own. Thanks to Skinnytaste.com for posting such a wonderful snack and breakfast! It got all thumbs up at our house and we’d definitely make these again!

If I'm going to spend the time, might as well make it worth my while.

If I’m going to spend the time, might as well make it worth my while.

Skinny Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Servings: 14  • Size: 2 mini muffins  • Old Points: 3 pts • Weight Watcher Points+: 4 pt
Calories: 160 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 27 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 2 g • Sugar: 18 g
Sodium: 118 mg • Cholest: 0 mg


  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (or canola)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • baking spray
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners and lightly spray liners with oil for easy removal.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin puree, oil, egg whites and vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
Add flour mixture to the wet mixture, then blend at low speed until combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tin and bake on the center rack for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let them cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 28 mini muffins or 14 regular sized muffins.

Monday Musings: Got M&M’s?

28 Apr

If you have M&Ms and a messy house, host an M&M Cleanup!


As I look around my living room at this very moment, I see laundry in two big piles waiting to be folded, leftover birthday party paraphernalia on the table, today’s pajamas from someone on the floor (those might even be yesterday’s now that I think about it) and I think to myself, “We need an M&M Cleanup!”

The M&M Cleanup is my husband’s invention, I must give him all the credit on this one. He started it when our kids were little as a way to entice them to clean up quickly with a little chocolate for motivation. Because it’s chocolate related, it still works even when they’re big. In fact, if you offered me an M&M right now (I prefer Peanut M&Ms,) I might just clean it all up myself.

Let me tell you a little bit more about it.

First and most importantly: You don’t need to have M&Ms to do this. You could use Skittles, fruit snacks, my personal fave-chocolate chips- or whatever you think is extra special, would motivate your child best and you’re comfortable rewarding them with. In fact, mini M&Ms work just as well as full size. Other than Halloween and maybe Easter, our kids don’t get M&Ms on a regular basis, so if we have them on hand, they work well because they don’t get them often. Conveniently, Santa always leaves them in the stockings and the Easter Bunny usually leaves them in the baskets, so we often get restocked around the holidays.

Second: We only save the M&M Cleanup for big messes, and only periodically do we use it. Otherwise, it’d lose its motivating factor. If you do it all the time, it’s not special. If our downstairs playroom is a huge, overwhelming mess after a multi-kid play date, for example, rather than yell and demand over and over that they clean up, and them whine that it’s too much or they don’t want to, or my favorite, “That’s not mine, I didn’t put that there,” we just announce an M&M Cleanup and they literally run to the mess and start cleaning up.

How it works: You can do it a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s one M&M or chocolate chip for each “thing” they pick up and put away, or for each trip they take from the living room to the bedroom for example, to put something away. Or, you could do an M&M per handful so that they’re not picking up a tiny scrap of paper and getting an M&M for each one. Really, the details and logistics are up to you. And, once that’s determined, how many rewards they get is up to them and how hard they work. If everyone works equally as hard (and in our house that is NOT always the case,) you can give a final little handful to all when the job is done just to make sure it’s fair all around and that no one who worked just as hard, is neglected for being a little bit slower, or whatever the case may be.

Most importantly: Make sure you are the one holding the M&Ms. This allows you most importantly to treat yourself as they clean up. I’m sure you worked just as hard about your day, without reward, so now’s the time. Secondly, this allows you to make sure no one is digging into the reward without doing their job first, or that no one is sneaking any more than what’s due them (such as the one for you and three for me routine.)

Although you can’t use this all the time and nothing is 100% foolproof when it comes to working with kids, The M&M Cleanup has worked wonders for us. It leaves us all smiling at the end and feeling rewarded for our hard work, and everyone needs that every once in a while!


Photo credit:

M&M image for the public use:

German Apple Cake

18 Nov
German Apple Cake is a recipe I loved, growing up.

German Apple Cake is a recipe I loved, growing up.


**I decided to re-post this today, November 18, 2013 because I made it this weekend for our friends who came for dinner. Making it reminded me of this post, so I thought I’d run it again for my newer followers who may have missed it.**

Growing up, this was one of my favorite recipes that my mom made. I have one specific memory also, of a time (the ONE time) when my mom was sick and my dad helped us make this recipe for her. I still think of that each time I see the recipe or eat this cake.

As with all of my recipes it’s super easy and of course, super delicious.

What’s your favorite apple recipe for fall?


3 c. chopped or shredded apples

1 c. oil

2 c. flour

1/2 c. choc. chips (or a few more if you love ’em as much as I do!)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of salt

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla


Mix all ingredients together by hand in large bowl.

Grease and flour bundt pan.

Pour batter into pan.

Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool 1/2 hr. before removing from the pan.


Monday Musings: It’s over and done…have a cookie.

26 Aug
All's quiet as we prepare for the first day back to school, back to routine.

All’s quiet as we prepare for the first day back to school, back to routine.

Well folks, that’s that.

Summer’s over, at least for us. The best two months of the calendar year have flown by, but they’ve been two wonderful months, for sure.

Tomorrow is the first day back to school.

We’ll be starting our first year where both our elementary kids are on the intermediate hallway. No more primary grades. Ever.

We’ll be starting our last year of middle school for our first kid. Next year…high school.


On a happy note…only ten more months until summer.

To celebrate, let’s have a cookie.

A couple of weeks back I tried out a new recipe, modified it for our needs, and it was a huge success. So today I’m sharing that recipe with you. Enjoy your week, munch on a cookie, it makes everything seem better.

These were in a new cookbook I received from a family friend recently. Everyone loved them!

These were in a new cookbook I received from a family friend recently. Everyone loved them! They’d make a great after school snack!

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

(with our modifications in italics)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter (we use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk (we use skim)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup white flour (we did one cup of white and 3/4 cup wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional and I did NOT add it in)
2 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking or old fashioned rolled oats
1 pkg. Semisweet Chocolate morsels
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional and I did NOT add it in)
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar.
Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, milk and vanilla.
Beat at medium speed until well blended.
Add flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat at low speed until soft dough forms.
Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12-13 minutes for a crisp cookie (I DID TEN.)
Let cool for 1 minute before removing from cookie sheets. Cool completely before storing.

Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.

A Sweet Treat for a Summer Snack

8 Jul
These barely had any time on the plate before they were devoured!

These barely had any time on the plate before they were devoured!

We tried a new snack recently. I’d seen a recipe somewhere for chocolate covered apricots. I love dried apricots, and I love chocolate, so I thought this would be worth a try. When the time came though, I couldn’t find wherever it was that I saw the original recipe so I Googled them and came up with one from About.com. It called for nuts, but I omitted the nuts and doubled the recipe since I had two bags of apricots to use.

The recipe was fast and easy and made a yummy snack. I’d definitely make them again. There are lots of fruits you can dip in chocolate including strawberries and bananas. I’ve also seen recipes for chocolate dipped kiwi, and since my kids love kiwi I thought I’d try that in the future too, so be on the lookout.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe as we tried it from About.com, modified for our nut-free preferences.


I melted my chocolate in a double boiler on top of the stove.

I melted my chocolate in a double boiler on top of the stove.

Ingredients: (we doubled this recipe)

  • 24 whole dried apricots
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate


1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Place the chopped almonds in a small bowl. (if using)

2. Temper or melt the chocolate in a medium bowl. (I did a double boiler on top of the stove.)

3. Holding an apricot by the tip, dip most of the fruit into the melted chocolate, swirling to ensure even coverage. Remove it from the chocolate and drag it along the lip of the bowl, removing excess chocolate.

Dried apricots are a pretty healthy snack, before you add the chocolate! We used semisweet chocolate.

Dried apricots are a relatively healthy snack, before you add the chocolate! We used semisweet chocolate.

4. Pat both sides of the chocolate-dipped apricot on the chopped almonds, covering both sides with nuts.

5. Place the candy on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat for the remaining apricots.

6. Place in the refrigerator to set the chocolate for approximately 10 minutes. If the chocolate has been tempered, the candy can be served at room temperature, but if it has not, it should be kept refrigerated until served.

New cookie recipe: I consider these “Superfoods”

8 Mar

I have a new chocolate cookbook that I received from Caroline for Christmas this year. IMG_0115

It’s fantastic.

I already went through it and tabbed a bunch of recipes, and we’ve already made two of them so far, both were delicious. One of them I am going to share with you today. Elizabeth and I made it together last weekend as a surprise for the rest of the family when they were out.

Overall, many of the recipes in this cookbook are already “healthified,” made with some healthier options. Today’s recipe is one of those healthier option recipes.

In fact, it’s so healthy, I might consider these cookies a “Superfood!”

You laugh (I can hear you) but just look at the ingredients in this recipe, read my post about super foods from last week and read the following blurb that I just read *today* in the March 13 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, that supports my superfood cookie claim:

“When you think ‘superfood,’ you probably picture kale or blueberries. But potent plant goodness comes in liquid form, too. Coffee is the nation’s number one source of antioxidants, accounting for 40% of our overall intake, according to research from the University of Scranton.”

Elizabeth was so excited to be the kid in the kitchen this time around!

Elizabeth was so excited to be the kid in the kitchen this time around!

First, let me just say that reading this thrilled me. I think I probably get more like 50% of my antioxident intake from coffee!

And second, although I’m being humorous, this recipe actually has coffee in it, which is why I drew your attention to that fact.

The cookies were a hard, crunchy cookie, which is the kind I prefer. Everyone here loved them, all thumbs up, and I didn’t think twice about offering them dessert, knowing that I was really providing them with daily doses of antioxidants!!

Below is the recipe. Now keep your eye open for all the healthier choices and you’ll see why these cookies were a superfood in my house!

My new superfood cookies

My new superfood cookies


3/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine (we used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.)

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg (we used egg substitute)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

scant 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon bran (We took bran flakes and crushed them up in a ziploc bag and took 1 tablespoon from there.)

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups rolled oats

1 tablespoon strong coffee (I used decaf!)

2/3 cup hazelnuts toasted and coarsely chopped (I skipped this ingredient.)

Using the larger of my two Pampered Chef scoops makes our cookies more uniform.

Using the larger of my two Pampered Chef scoops makes our cookies more uniform.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease two large cookie sheets (I don’t grease, mine are fine.)

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the egg and beat well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Then add in the whole wheat flour and bran.

Mix in the egg mixture, then stir in the chocolate chips, oats, coffee, and hazelnuts.

Mix well.

Put 24 rounded tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. (Ours took less, around 15 minutes.)

Remove from oven, then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool before serving.


New friends, new recipe!

25 Feb
An exciting Kids' State Dinner reunion took place on Sunday afternoon at our house!

An exciting Kids’ State Dinner reunion took place on Sunday afternoon at our house!

Yesterday was a very exciting day!

Our new friend Debra, one of the moms from the Kids’ State Dinner, visited us at our house! She was traveling from her home in Virginia to see family in nearby Massachusetts so we were able to reconnect for a couple of hours.

Debra stopped by in time for lunch, so Don cooked up some of his yummy pizzas and a meatball calzone, and I made a new dessert.

I know that in general you shouldn’t try out a new recipe on new guests, but I thought that Debra would be okay with it, being someone herself who cooks and experiments with recipes.

Until about an hour before she arrived and I realized I was going to have to make a change to the recipe, and then at that point I got a little nervous.

But, luckily it all worked out great. We had a wonderful visit, which flew by, and before we knew it, it was time for dessert.

Debra brought us this pretty trivet, which makes a pretty backdrop for our Fudge Meltaways!

Debra brought us this pretty trivet, which makes a pretty backdrop for our pretty Fudge Meltaways!

That too, was wonderful as well.

It all ended much too soon, but luckily Debra has family here, and we have family in Virginia, so we know we’ll get to reconnect again and again.

In the meantime, here is the new dessert recipe for you. I got it from one of my cookbooks and as I write it for you I’ll explain what happened partway through and how I solved it.

Lately, I often go to the internet when I’m looking for something new to cook, but this time I grabbed a cookbook off my rack, opened up to any random page and moved a page or so beyond it, and found one to try. It ended up being a no bake recipe too, which was a bonus.

There were three layers to the recipe, so I’ll write it out and explain it layer by layer for you.

FUDGE MELTAWAYS (from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book)

First layer.....

First layer…..

First layer:

1/2 cup butter (We used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)

1 sq. unsweetened chocolate (one ounce)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 beaten egg

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

(We did not use the next two ingredients: 1 cup coconut, 1/2 cup chopped nuts)

Second layer....

Second layer….

Second layer:

1/4 cup butter (We used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)

1 tablespoon milk or cream (We used skim milk)

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Third (top) layer....

Third (top) layer….

Third Layer:

This was our issue. The third layer was supposed to be 1 and  1/2 squares of unsweetened chocolate, melted and spread over the top of the second layer. However, the unsweetened chocolate tastes terrible by itself and we couldn’t guarantee it’d taste any better on top of the dessert. At Caroline’s suggestion, I made a half-batch of Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook instead, and spread that across the top. It was delicious. Essentially it was almost the same as the second layer, but chocolate, but it worked.

So here is the recipe for the top layer, , so for a full recipe, double this one:

2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar

1/8 cup milk (add more as needed)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 tsp vanilla


1) Melt 1/2 cup butter and 1 sq. chocolate in saucepan.

2) Blend in granulated sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, eggs, crumbs (and coconut and nuts if you choose to use them).

3) Mix well and press into 11×7 or 9×9 dish.

4) Refrigerate.

5) Mix 1/4 cup butter, milk, confectioners sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Spread over crumb mixture.

6) Chill.

(I left this overnight before completing the top layer. )

7) Using the Better Homes and Gardens frosting recipe above, combine and spread across second layer.

8) Refrigerate and later serve.

Enjoy, but tell me, what would you have done with that third layer? Would you have served it as is? Or, would you have changed it too?