Pineapple Lassi

I learned about a new beverage this week: the Lassi. Actually, it’s just new to me, because it’s a traditional beverage from India and I’m sure it’s been around a long time! A Lassi is an easy-to-make healthy yogurt drink and I discovered this beverage (and the recipe I’m sharing below) in my review copy of Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond. It’s a guide to making probiotic beverages at home. And that appeals to me because I really like Kombucha and Kefir, but it can get expensive if you buy them a lot. So making your own at home sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?

There’s a lot of information in this book–it goes into the basics of what fermentation means and why it’s good for you, the kind of equipment and accessories you’ll need, and then starts off with some easy recipes–”Five-Minute Recipes”–which include a few sweet and savory Lassi recipes, Salty Fermented Lemonade or Limeade, and some other beverages. Then the book gets into making Starters and Master Recipes for Kombucha and Kefir, which are a little more involved. There are also recipes for Vegetable Drinks, healthy sodas, ciders, and wines. I’m still going through it all, so that’s why I’m sharing one of the easy recipes with you! If you have an interest in making your own fermented drinks, this could be a helpful guide for you.

The Lassi reminds me a little of a yogurt-based smoothie. One thing you’ll want to know about this recipe is that it is not very sweet. The book does not say to add any sweetener, but I found some other Lassi recipes that use honey as a sweetener. So, if you like your yogurt drinks on the sweeter side, try adding a few teaspoons of honey to this recipe!

PINEAPPLE LASSI from Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt store-bought or homemade
  • 1 cup water or high-quality, full-fat milk
  • A few ice cubes
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple (or pulp of 1 mango, which comes to about 1 cup)

Blend the yogurt, water (or milk), ice cubes, sea salt, cardamom (if using) and pineapple (or mango) in a blender on high speed for about 30 seconds or until nice and frothy. If not completely blended, repeat until smooth. Serve with more ice if desired. (Note: I added a few teaspoons of honey to the Lassi I made–try it without any sweetener first–you can always sweeten it to taste!)

Do you drink Kombucha  or Kefir? Have you ever tried making them?

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Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was the perfect weekend for baking, since it was so cold outside. Cold and icy, too–not a good weather combination. I’d much rather be inside than out during weather like this! And there’s nothing like baking to help make things warm and cozy. I had thought about making some Red Velvet cookies at Christmastime but since I didn’t have a chance to then, I thought these would be great for Valentines Day.

These Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies are a little crispy, but also little chewy. They’re more chewy if you eat them slightly warm or when they just cool. After they cool and sit a bit they get crispier, but still have a little chewiness to them. They also have a deep rich red color, thanks to the unsweetened cocoa powder in the dough. I like the deep red color myself, but if you like your Red Velvet cookies a little brighter, use a little less cocoa powder–try 1/2 Tablespoon less.

RED VELVET WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES by NancyC

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (or just use 3 Tablespoons if you want a brighter red cookie color–the cocoa darkens the batter)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)  butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons milk
  • 2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon red food coloring (liquid or gel)
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, plus a few more chips for the top of each cookie

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In medium-size bowl blend flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

In large bowl, cream softened butter with the sugar. Add in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract, mixing well, then add the red food coloring and blend well.

Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter/egg mixture, mixing well. Fold in the white chocolate chips, incorporating them evenly into the cookie dough–dough will be thick. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

When dough has been chilled, remove from refrigerator and roll into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place on prepared baking sheets a few inches apart and press 3 extra white chocolate chips into the top of each cookie. Bake at 350˚F for 11 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: the cookies will look a little puffy when you take them out of the oven, but then they’ll settle as they’re cooling.

I was going to make another type of Red Velvet cookie, but I ran out of red food coloring! So I’ll have to make that another time. Have you made any Red Velvet cookies or desserts lately?

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Easy Knitted Scarf

I love knitted scarves in the winter–there’s something comforting about having a bundle of cozy softness around you to help keep you warm! We had a little break in our chilly winter weather for about a week, but now it’s cold again, and my knitted scarves will once again come in handy! They are so easy to make, especially this particular type of knitted scarf, and I’ve made quite a few of them.

The directions for this scarf are quite simple:

  1. Cast on 34 stitches. You can increase or decrease the stitches by 4, depending on how thick your yarn is, and how wide you want your scarf to be. For a medium weight 4-ply yarn, 34 stitches will give you a scarf that’s about 6 1/2″ wide.
  2. Row 1: Knit 2, Purl 2
  3. Row 2: Purl 2, Knit 2
  4. Repeat these rows until your scarf is as long as you want it. This scarf is 6 1/2 ft., which took 2 skeins of yarn to make.
  5. Cast off your stitches (which is how you finish off the scarf)

If you don’t know how to knit, there are lots of books for beginners and lots of tutorials on the web, too. This tutorial over at wikihow.com shows you how to cast on, do a basic knitting stitch, and cast off.

The photo above, of the most recent scarf I knitted, shows one way you can wear your scarf, and here’s another way:I like both ways–either way you wear it, you’ll feel nice and warm!

Do you like to knit? Or crochet? Do you have any projects you’re working on now?

Bacon-Sausage Pancake Casserole and Waffle Fruit Kabobs

Did you know that February is National Hot Breakfast Month?  When I think of a good breakfast, I think of pancakes and waffles and maybe some eggs, bacon, or sausage on the side. If you’re like me, you probably don’t have much time on weekday mornings to make and enjoy a hearty breakfast like this. That’s why breakfast for dinner is such a great idea during the week! Even if you’re pressed for time at the dinner hour, you can save time making a yummy “Breakfast Night” meal for your family with some ready-made ingredients and great-tasting pancake and waffle mixes like the ones from Krusteaz®. I tried some complimentary samples of their Belgian Supreme Waffle Mix (works for Belgian or traditional waffles), Buttermilk Pancake Mix, and Protein Buttermilk Pancake Mix (with 13g of protein per serving)–these mixes make wonderful light and fluffy pancakes and thick, crispy waffles that really taste like homemade! I also used these mixes in a few recipes that can be made for breakfast, but are also perfect for a “Breakfast Night” meal.

The two recipes I’m sharing here are both yummy and easy to make. The Bacon-Sausage Pancake Casserole is a hearty, filling, comfort-food kind of dish and the Waffle Fruit Kabobs add a little variety to the meal with some fresh fruit paired with small waffle squares. You can add additional fresh fruit or a salad to complete the meal. I’m also including some time-saving tips at the end of each recipe.

Let’s start off with the Bacon-Sausage Pancake Casserole, which is a delicious combination of family-favorite breakfast foods: bacon, sausage, eggs, cheddar cheese, and some chopped green onion, all mixed in a yummy pancake batter!

BACON-SAUSAGE PANCAKE CASSEROLE by NancyC

Makes a 9×13″ pan

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
  • 2 cups pancake mix (I used Krusteaz® Buttermilk Pancake Mix)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Half & Half
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Optional: dash of salt and pepper
  • 3 cups (12-ounces) shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 (8-ounce) package pre-cooked breakfast sausage patties, crumbled
  • 1 (3-ounce) package real crumbled bacon pieces (or substitute 12 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9×13″ pan with butter or cooking spray. Drizzle 1/4 cup (or half) of the melted butter in the bottom of the greased pan, tilting the pan to coat the bottom evenly; set aside.

In a large bowl, blend the pancake mix, the remaining melted butter (1/4 cup), milk, Half & Half, and the eggs, mixing everything well (you can add a dash of salt and pepper too if desired–I didn’t add any myself but some people like a little extra seasoning). Pour half of this mixture (about 2 cups) over the melted butter in the baking pan.

Layer 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese over the batter, then the crumbled sausage, then the crumbled bacon, and then the chopped green onion. Cover these layers with another 1 cup of cheese, then pour the remaining batter over all the layers. Save the remaining 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle over the casserole during the last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake at 350˚F for 42 to 45 minutes or until casserole is set (sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the casserole after 30 to 35 minutes of baking). When finished baking, remove from oven and let casserole stand 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

TIME–SAVING TIPS: 1) Crumble the pre-cooked sausage patties the night before and store in an airtight container in your refrigerator. 2) Use a 3-ounce package of crumbled bacon pieces instead of cooking and crumbling the bacon yourself. 3) Chop the green onions the night before and store in an airtight container in your refrigerator.

When you use the time-saving tips, you can put this casserole together in no time!

While the casserole is baking, you can make the Waffle Fruit Kabobs…

WAFFLE FRUIT KABOBS by NancyC

  • Assorted fresh fruit, halved, sliced, or cut into chunks. Use strawberries, bananas, pineapple, kiwi, oranges, mangos, grapes, or just about any fruit your family likes! Quantities of fruit depend on how many kabobs you want to make.
  • Belgian waffles (I used Krusteaz® Beligan Waffle Mix), cut into 1 1/2″ squares–-you can cut the squares a little smaller or larger if you like–one 7″ round waffle should give you about 7 small waffle squares and you’ll need at least 2 to 3 waffle squares for each kabob)
  • wooden skewers
  • Optional: serve kabobs with vanilla Greek yogurt as a dip if desired (or mix 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons honey with 1 cup plain Greek yogurt). You can also drizzle these kabobs with a little warm honey or maple syrup.

Cut or slice the fruit and place on a large platter or cutting board. Place your waffle squares on another large platter–setting the ingredients up like this makes it really quick and easy to put these kabobs together! Have your wooden skewers in a handy-to-reach place on your counter.

Add fruit and waffle pieces to the skewers, arranging them whatever way you like. I like having several pieces of fruit together and then adding a waffle square. I include 2 to 3 waffle squares per kabob. You can add more waffle squares and less fruit if you like. Serve these kabobs by themselves or with some vanilla Greek yogurt as a dip. You can also drizzle these with a little warm honey or maple syrup!

TIME-SAVING TIPS: 1) Make the waffles ahead of time (you can also cut them into small squares ahead of time) and freeze until ready to use. 2) Cut or slice the fruit you’ll be using the night before and store in an airtight container in your refrigerator 3) If serving the kabobs with the Greek yogurt as a dip, you can spoon the yogurt into a small dish ahead of time, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

If you make the waffles ahead of time and prepare the fruit the night before, you can put these Waffle Fruit Kabobs together in minutes!

Do you and your family enjoy having “Breakfast Nights?” Or if you haven’t had one, are you looking forward to doing a “Breakfast Night” now? What kind of breakfast dishes do you like to serve your family?

You can find more “Breakfast Night” ideas, tips, and recipes over at Krusteaz.com.

I partnered with Krusteaz® on this post and all content and opinions expressed are my own.

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Apple, Walnut and Stilton Cheese Salad

Just about a week and a half ago, we were having some seriously cold winter weather. Like zero degrees. That is way too cold for me! And apparently for lots of other people, because no one wanted to get out in that weather. We were kind of all hibernating during that deep freeze. And then, much to everyone’s delight, the weather gradually started warming up. Things slowly came back to life. It felt like the frozen world was beginning to thaw. And as that happened, I started craving a good salad.

And right about this time, I received my review copy of a new cookbook called Fresh Tastes by Lee Clayton Roper. It actually has a great photo of a salad on the cover! So I knew then that I would be picking out a salad recipe to try from this book. There are much more than salad recipes, though–there are over 170 recipes for everything from appetizers and breakfast foods to main dishes, vegetarian dishes, and desserts, all made with fresh ingredients (hence the name, Fresh Tastes) and easy to prepare. There’s lots of very nice full-color photography of many of the dishes, too. Had I not wanted to make a salad so badly, I might have tried the Green Chile Canapés, Cinnamon Loaf, Chicken Pot Pie, Cajun Meatloaf, Vegetable Curry, or Blueberry Peach Custard Pie. But I was set on a salad, so I’ll have to try those another time! Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it yourself:

APPLE, WALNUT AND STILTON CHEESE SALAD from Fresh Tastes

Makes 6 servings

  • 1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar (or substitute raspberry vinegar with 1-2 Tbsp. honey–if you can’t find raspberry vinegar, just substitute a raspberry or raspberry-walnut vinaigrette for the vinegar, lemon juice, and oil)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil (or substitute olive oil)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 10 ounces mixed baby greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce)
  • 2 large Gala or other red apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups (6 to 8 ounces) Stilton cheese, crumbled (or substitute Gorgonzola or other forms of blue cheese)

In a medium glass jar with fitted lid, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice and oil until well blended and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside (you can skip these steps if you’re using a raspberry-walnut vinaigrette).

In a large bowl, toss together mixed greens, chopped apple, walnuts and cheese. Just before serving, toss with just enough dressing to coat the lettuce (you may have some dressing left over). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is a great winter salad, and the chopped apples, walnuts, and Stilton cheese go really well together. Do you have a favorite winter salad recipe?

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