Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lime, Coconut, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Bark ...plus a Giveaway worth $200! #LuckoftheIrish

Wow...it's hard to believe it's March! Spring is right around the corner (I hope), and March brings with it a very fun, and very green celebration --St. Paddy's day! I'm not Irish (100% Dutch), but that doesn't mean I don't wish for a little luck of the Irish. This year, I've joined a fabulous group of bloggers to help bring one lucky reader some of that luck in the form of a great giveaway. I'll explain more in just a bit...first let me show this year's rendition of my ode to green edibles.

My latest obsession is candied citrus peel. Seriously. It started with a little grapefruit peel experimentation. I happen to dislike grapefruit with a passion. Bitter and awful. But the peel? Simmered in juice and sugar until it's syrupy and then rolled in more sugar....holy yum! From there I went to orange, then lemon, and now...you guessed it....I needed something green, so candied lime peel was on the agenda. 

The key to keeping the bitterness at bay is to carefully avoid the pith.

Now, I've always been more of a chocolate lover than a citrus lover. It seems that people are usually divided between the two camps when it comes to dessert. Then, I combined the two. Oh my! Dark chocolate and orange is a given...a simply fabulous and classic combination. But dark chocolate and lime? The best!

I decided on a dark chocolate bark, mostly because of how easy it is. The candied lime is the star, of course, but I decided to add some pistachio and some roasted coconut. The resulting candy isn't as "green" as I had hoped, but flavor is just so worth it.

Lime, Coconut, and Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark

Bits of candied lime peel give this chocolate bark little bursts flavor.


  • 2 medium limes
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 (12 oz) package dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup roasted coconut chips, or toasted coconut
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped


  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to shave thin slices of peel from the limes, taking care to avoid the white pith. Julienne the shaved peels into 1/8" strips.
  3. Juice the limes and add enough water to make 3/4 cup. Combine the juice and 1/2 cup sugar in a small non-reactive saucepan. Stir in the peel. Heat over medium heat until the mixture just comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy and the peels are translucent.
  4. Drain the peels, reserving the syrup for another use, if desired. Toss the peels with 1/4 cup sugar, then transfer them to a sheet of parchment paper; spread out and allow to dry for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Bring 1-inch of water in a medium-sized pot to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low. Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water, making sure that the bowl isn’t touching the water. Stir the chips until completely melted and smooth. With an offset spatula, spread the chocolate evenly on the prepared parchment lined cookie sheet to a 1/4 –inch thickness. Sprinkle the candied lime peels, the coconut chips, and the pistachio nuts evenly over the chocolate. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Break into pieces. Store covered in a cool area, or refrigerate.
Tags: dark chocolate, candied lime, pistachios, roasted coconut, candy, St. Patrick's Day, green

As if lime infused chocolate wasn't exciting enough, take a look at what you could win--$100 PayPal cash and a Keurig! There are so many chances...simply enter through the Rafflecopter widget! The contest will run through March 17th. How lucky is that?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please take the time to visit with all of the sponsors of this contest.

This giveaway is hosted & sponsored by

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and you must be 18 years or older to enter. Winner will win $100 PayPal Cash and a Keurig K45 Elite Brewer ($100 value).

Giveaway sponsored by the blogs listed above and is no way affiliated with Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter. You must have a valid email address to enter. Giveaway runs through 3/17/15. A winner will be chosen and emailed within 48 hours. You have 48 hours to respond to said email or a new winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary to enter, void where prohibited. For full rules, see details in the form.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Skinny Lasagna #RedGoldRecipes #Giveaway


I’m not sure what the weather has been like where you live, but in these parts it has been darn cold. I’m not really complaining (well, maybe just a little…) since I do live in Minnesota and it is January. The thing is, the cold weather makes me crave a nice comforting, warm casserole. Something that can serve a crowd, in case we invite a few people over to watch the game. Something easy, because I don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen. Oh yeah…can we make it lower in calories? I need to drop a few pounds….. Sound impossible? Meet Red Gold Tomatoes' recipe for Skinny Lasagna!

I was introduced to Red Gold's lasagna recipes last year, when I made their Fresh Harvest Lasagna. It is so easy to make! Seriously, there is no need to boil the lasagna and you don't need to buy that leathery "no boil" stuff, either...just regular lasagna. This year, Red Gold has teamed up with Laura's Lean Beef to create the perfect "Skinny", yet meaty lasagna....and it's just as easy to make. Laura's Lean Beef is a Kentucky based company that produces lean, natural beef from cattle that are humanely raised without hormones and fed a natural diet of grass and grain. Like Red Gold, they are a family run company!

"Skinny" Lasagna (recipe courtesy of Red Gold Tomatoes)


1/2 cup water
1 (28 ounce) can Red Gold® Crushed Tomatoes, or 2 (15 ounce) cans Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Red Gold® Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano
Ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 pound Laura's 96% Lean Ground Round, or ground turkey, cooked and drained
1 (16 ounce) box traditional whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 (15 ounce) carton low fat cottage cheese
2 cups shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated low sodium Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large mixing bowl combine water, crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes, black pepper, Italian seasoning and ground round, stir to combine ingredients in the sauce.

Cover the bottom of a 9x13x2 inch baking pan with 1½ cups of sauce mixture.  Arrange 1/3 of noodles on top of sauce, slightly overlapped.  Top with ½ of cottage cheese, ½ of mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of sauce.  Repeat layers and top with last 1/3 of noodles and the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 to 1½ hours; until noodles are cooked. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

So that's it. Really. And even though I usually change at least a half dozen things in any given recipe, this time I left it as it was (except that I couldn't find whole wheat lasagna). Skinny? At about 330 calories per serving, it certainly is. My husband actually preferred the cottage cheese to the ricotta. He had no idea he was eating "Skinny" lasagna.

This year, to celebrate their line of Simple Gourmet Lasagna recipes, Red Gold and Laura's Lean Beef are teaming up to give away six Gourmet Lasagna Party Kits valued at $325 and 750 custom aprons. Simply "like" both Red Gold and Laura's Lean Beef on Facebook, and fill out the form. The sweepstakes will run from January 13 through February 3, so hurry over and throw your hat in the ring!

Click Here to enter.

To sweeten the pot even more, Red Gold has given me the nod to have a little giveaway of my own. You can win a "Mini" Lasagna Kit consisting of:

2- 14-ounce cans of Red Gold diced tomatoes with Basil Garlic and Oregano
1- 28-ounce can Red Gold crushed tomatoes
A package of lasagna noodles
A Laura's Lean Beef apron
A coupon for Laura's Lean Beef product
6 Simple Gourmet Lasagna recipes

Simply enter with the Rafflecopter widget (your info will only be visible to me)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was given product and coupons. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Banana-Pear Chewy Granola Bars #Chiquita®Bananas

What kind of recipe would you put together if you had to include bananas, pears, and cinnamon? That was my challenge a couple of months ago when Chiquita® Banana had an awesome 8 week contest going on. I was slightly late to the party since I didn't even think about entering until week 7, but I gave it my all that week and entered at least 4 recipes. Can you even begin to imagine how excited I was when I won the grand prize for week 7?! Yup...here they are and they are healthy to boot: Banana-Pear Chewy Granola Bars!

These are so easy to make and really quite versatile. The mashed bananas, a little honey, and some dried fruit are all of the sweetness the recipe needs. I added some dried cranberries and blueberries, but any dried fruit would work. The flaxseed offers some awesome Omega-3's, but make sure you refrigerate the rest of the bag...those little seeds can spoil if they aren't stored correctly.

Chiquita® Banana-Pear Chewy Granola Bars 
Printable Recipe

2   cups large flake rolled oats
1/2   cup coarsely chopped almonds
3   medium, very ripe Chiquita® bananas
1   Tbsp. coconut oil
2   Tbsp. honey
1   tsp. cinnamon
1/4   tsp. allspice
1/4   tsp. sea salt
1/4   cup flaxseed
1   Bartlett pear, peeled and diced
1/2   cup dried cranberries
1/2   cup dried blueberries

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both long sides of the pan. Set aside.

Spread the oats and the almonds on a large baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the oats are just starting to brown. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Stir in the coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Fold in the flaxseed, pear, cranberries, blueberries, oats and almonds.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan, packing it down with a spatula. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until firm and set. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Lift out of pan and continue to cool completely.

Cut into 12 bars.

I finally found a use for the baker's twine!

I've made these several times already, and keep them wrapped in parchment, in the fridge, and at the ready to grab for a quick breakfast or to bring to work as a snack. Not a bad start to some healthier eating, eh? 

Be sure to visit the Chiquita® Banana recipe page for some more awesome and healthy banana recipes....everything from smoothies, to banana bread, to...granola bars!

What is your favorite Banana recipe?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Appelbeignets (Dutch Apple Fritters)


Of course I have every intention of starting those New Year resolutions. Really. Healthier recipes are coming your way...a couple of them, at least. But c'mon. The whole year is looming ahead of us. There is plenty of time. Let's start the New Year right with another Dutch tradition: Appelbeignets!

A few years ago, I hauled out my Fry Baby (circa 1975...no kidding) to make Oliebollen. They are by all accounts a precursor to the modern day doughnut...fried balls of dough studded with raisins or chopped apple and rolled in sugar...all of Holland celebrates with them on New Year's Eve. I found them to be pretty awesome, but deep frying isn't my thing so I put the Fry Baby into storage. 

This year, a deal on cooking oil got me to thinking about those Oliebollen and how I've been wanting to try and make their better looking cousin, the Appelbeignet....literally a Dutch Apple Fritter. Out came the Fry Baby...

Just peel, core, and slice a few apples....

I searched around for a good recipe to use and I found several very similar ones. A few use a bottle of ale in the batter, but I didn't have any so I went the way of buttermilk.  To brighten things up, I decided to use a little orange zest, but otherwise the batter is pretty straight forward. Simply peel, core and slice some apples...I used a few Honeycrisp....and make a simple batter. Very easy.

Appelbeignets (Dutch Apple Fritters)

3 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest, divided
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
powdered sugar for dusting, if desired

Heat at least 2 cups of oil to 375 degrees F.

Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 tablespoon orange zest. Sprinkle over the apples,

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat the egg into the buttermilk and stir in half of the orange zest. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour, stirring until combined. If the batter is too thick, add more buttermilk a teaspoon at a time to thin it out.

Dip the apple slices into the batter, covering completely. Carefully drop two or three slices into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

I couldn't decide if I wanted them rolled in cinnamon-sugar.....

.....or simple sprinkled with powdered sugar. I made them both ways.

What is your New Year tradition?

Next up: Good for you Banana-Pear Chewy Granola Bars!