Friday Favorites–Halloween Party Food

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait

I find it a little difficult to find healthy snacks when I’m away from home.  It’s even worse that I often end up in the coffee shop, full of cookies and other fat-laden baked goods.  I’ve given up a lot of things for this diet, but I still budget in the occasional Starbucks drink now and then.  Recently, I discovered their yogurt parfaits in the refrigerated section.  The berry version is only 220 calories and it’s delicious.  It didn’t take long before I was wondering if it was something I could replicate at home.  Oh, yes I can.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 1
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 1

This actually doesn’t take a ton of different ingredients, and one batch can make 4 – 8 servings, so you’re set for breakfast for at least a few days. 

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 2
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 2

Start the granola first, so it can bake while you whip up the fruit compote.

Granola

  • 3/4 cup oats (gluten-free, if that’s how you roll)
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Spread on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then stir.  Bake for 15 minutes longer, stirring every 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Pour onto wax paper to cool.  Once it has cooled, break up some of the larger pieces.  Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 3
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 3

Once the granola is in the oven, you can start the fruit compote. 

Strawberry Blueberry Compote

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (5 – 6 large)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until bubbly.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken, around 5 minutes.  Add the blueberries and cook just until they’re heated.  Remove from heat and cool.  Makes about 1 cup.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 4
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 4

You can also cook both berries together from the beginning, just be aware that while the flavor is there, your blueberries will not be recognizable in the final product.

To assemble the parfait, start with 2 tablespoons of the berry compote on the bottom for 8 servings, or 1/4 cup for 4 servings.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 5
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 5

Add 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt for either number of servings.  I like Zoi.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 6
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 6

Top with 1/4 cup granola for 4 servings or 2 tablespoons for 8.  You should have a little granola left over.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 7
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 7

After you’re done looking at how pretty it is, mix it all together and enjoy.  Oh, and it’s still pretty.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 8
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 8

One thing I really love about the Starbucks parfait is that the granola is in its own container so it doesn’t mix with the yogurt and get soggy.  You can just dump it in when you’re ready.  After a little brainstorming I solved that problem with my homemade version too.

Save and wash an empty applesauce container.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 9
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 9

Fill it with the granola and top it with a piece of foil.  Put it upside down on top of the wide-mouth jar lid and twist on the ring.  The foil keeps it in place!  I shook this and it didn’t budge.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci

Here’s the REALLY good news.  If you make this recipe into four servings (as shown in the first photo above), each one will have 206 calories, which is 14 fewer than Starbucks’.  If you make it into eight servings, as shown in my awesome travel container here, it’s only 125 calories!

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci 2
Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci 2

Healthy on-the-go snack problem?  Solved.

Buffalo Chex Mix

I love you guys.  I asked for help yesterday to make a decision, and you jumped in to give your opinions.  I can’t begin to tell you what that means to me.  Thank you!  By the way, the winner of the one-way trip to Japan can be found on yesterday’s post.  It was very close for a while there!

Now, on to today’s recipe.  I discovered Frank’s Red Hot Sauce about a year ago.  Why had I never tried this stuff before?  I am seriously hooked. (I also just had my first taste of Sriracha a few days ago – don’t even get me started.)  Frank’s is good on everything, so I decided to give it a go as the star of this Chex mix.  Of course, then I learned Chex already had a version, but mine differs in a few areas.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 1
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 1

Do you like my non-committal colors?  A little Seahawks, a little Broncos?  That’s me – Go Team!

Buffalo Chex Mix

9 cups Rice Chex cereal (one 12.8 ounce box)

2 cups Bugles

2 cups pretzels

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup butter

3 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1 packet ranch dressing mix

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 2
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 2

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the cereal, Bugles, pretzels and cashews.  Of course, you can use combine different flavors of Chex if you’d prefer, I just like using up one whole box. 

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 3
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 3

Melt the butter in the microwave.  Add the hot sauce, ranch and celery seed.  Mix well with a whisk.  This is very mild on the hotness, so feel free to add more sauce if you’d like.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 4
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 4

Pour over the cereal mixture and stir until the pieces are evenly coated.  Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and gently stir.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 5
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 5

Spread on two large cookie sheets. 

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 6
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 6

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 7
Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 7

If I wasn’t on what I’m affectionately calling The Mother of the Bride Diet, I’d spend Sunday with a big bowl of this waiting to find out what the Budweiser Clydesdales and that E-Trade baby have been up to.  Oh, I mean who wins the game.  Yeah, that.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

When someone asks you that age-old question, “If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?” do you have an answer ready, or do you have to think about it?  I can answer before they’re finished asking:  chocolate chip cookie dough.  I’m even flexible about the chips.  They could be nuts or chips of almost any flavor.  It’s the dough I’m after.  That’s why any time I see a recipe that’s titled “blah, blah, whatever Cookie Dough” it gets my attention.

That happened to me recently on a blog called Chocolate-Covered Katie.  She is vegan herself and shares many sugar-free and gluten-free recipes.  I’m not vegan and don’t follow an anything-free diet, but she has tons of recipes that I’d love to try.  I started with Healthy Cookie Dough.

Let me just say, I was EXTREMELY skeptical of this recipe.  But, I happened to have all the necessary ingredients and I was intrigued.  The secret is chickpeas, or garbanzo beans as they’re known in my pantry.  They’re the same beans used to make hummus, which I love, but the smell of those beans when I opened the can told me this was going to be a giant fail. 

healthy cookie dough

I was floored.  The end product didn’t taste like beans or hummus or anything it shouldn’t.  It tasted like cookie dough and was delicious.  I attacked each of my family members with a spoonful and made them tell me how tasty it was before I told them what was in it.

I ate this first with graham crackers, but found that to be a little too sweet.  After much, um, experimenting, I found pretzels to be the perfect dipper.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

The one I’d like to try next…Chocolate Frosting Shots!

No Bake Energy Bites

I came across a recipe on Pinterest this weekend that I had to try.  Well, let’s face it, I actually just saw a photo I liked and clicked through until I found the recipe.  It IS Pinterest, after all.

I love things that are easy to make, use ingredients I can pronounce and are easy to substitute, and have at least some health benefits.  These little babies fit the bill on all levels.  They also just happen to be delicious.

No Bake Energy Bites 1

The original recipe can be found on Smashed Peas and Carrots.  I’m sure the recipe would be fantastic as written. However, a combination of a lack of certain ingredients and a hatred by one of my children of those ingredients required some substitutions.  I WILL be trying these with the coconut though, and my son and I will eat them all.

I made a double batch because I have a sixteen year old boy.  ‘Nuff said.  As I mentioned, no coconut and I was short on flax seed by half.  I did have a box of Dulce de Leche Cheerios in the cupboard that everyone was underwhelmed by, so I put those through the food processor and threw them in.  I forgot that they’re lightly sweetened, so I should have cut back a bit on the honey.  They’re yummy, but a little sweet.

I ended up adding an additional 1/4 cup peanut butter because my mixture was a little too crumbly, but I think that was because the cereal crumbs were drier than the coconut and flax seed would have been. 

The instructions say to roll into balls, but I found I needed to squish them into balls.  I was afraid they wouldn’t hold together, but as long as I smooshed them, they kept their shape.  I think they would work as bars also.  I would smash them into a pan before refrigerating, then cut them into bars after they’re cold.

If you have time, scan through the comments following the recipe for some great ideas for substitutions.  I can’t wait to try these with some different ingredients.  Which could be today, since the ones I made yesterday are gone.  Already.

No Bake Energy Bites 2

Cowboy Caviar

I meant to share this recipe with you before the holidays, but time refused to slow down to the pace I needed.  Go figure.

012
012

I’m not sure whether to call this a dip, snack or a side dish.   Maybe appetizer?  All I know is, it’s fantastic and we eat it often.  My friend Melinda, who is an amazing cook, brought this to a party at our house once, years ago, and we’ve requested it at every one since.  The recipe she shared with me also has a place of honor in my cookbook AND I have a photo of the recipe in my cell phone in case I’m at the grocery store and decide we need to make it soon.  Yes, it is that good.

This is very easy to make, and open to variations if there’s an ingredient you don’t have or don’t like.  For instance, the original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of olive oil, but because we’re trying to eat healthier, I cut it back to 1 tablespoon.  Melinda recently started substituting Serrano peppers for the jalapenos, which gives it a little different flavor and is just as good.  We leave out the tomatoes because someone in our house doesn’t think they’re edible.

003
003

Cowboy Caviar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

1 (15 ounce) can blackeye peas (drained)

1 (11 ounce) can white shoepeg corn (not drained)

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

3/4 cup chopped green onion

1 – 2 jalapenos, chopped

2 avocados, chopped

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (optional)

Combine all the ingredients, except the avocados and tomatoes.  Mix well.  Add the avocados and tomatoes and mix gently.  Makes about 4 cups without the tomatoes.

019
019

A few notes:

-  I usually chop the garlic, cilantro and jalapenos in the food processor because it’s easy, but I like the texture better when I chop everything by hand.

-  This tastes better if you make it the day before you want to eat it so the flavors get a chance to blend.

-  I almost always make a double batch of this and I’ve found that one bunch of cilantro and one bunch of green onions are the perfect amount.  If you’re making a single batch, you’ll need a half bunch of each.

-  If you’ve never heard of shoepeg corn (I hadn’t before this recipe), it’s a white corn with smaller-than-average, tender kernels.  I haven’t had a problem finding it from Green Giant in the canned vegetable aisle.

-  I use my home-canned dill garlic and dill jalapenos in this most of the time.

-  This is great with lime-flavored tortilla chips.  We tried it with Popchips this time and that’s also delicious.  If they start making lime-flavored Popchips it would be heavenly.

For those of you counting calories, 1/2 cup of Cowboy Caviar has 164 calories (without the tomatoes) and it makes a great salad when you throw it on top of spinach.  Enjoy!

Friday Favorites–Superheroes

My favorite superhero just got promoted at work and we’re having a party tomorrow to celebrate, so it seemed fitting that the theme for my favorites this week should be superheroes. 

We’re a family full of fans.  My daughter drives a little black car with a giant Batman symbol on the hood.  I have Wonder Woman stuff floating around everywhere.  My husband had an Ironman themed birthday party a couple of years ago.  We’re dedicated.

As soon as I find out where to get cookie cutters shaped like a bikini top and a onesie, I’ve got to try these Wonder Woman cookies from Bake at 350.

SONY DSC

Batman is a pretty ingenious guy, so I’m betting he built his Bat-signal from a Papasan chair, just like Instructables user Orvis.

Bat-signal-Papasan-Chair

Speaking of Batman, check out this amazing Batman Birthday from Fryman Four.  Lots of great ideas, but my favorite is the simple way she made these tables remind you of Batman and Robin.

June 10 2011 014

I have mixed feelings about this Comic Book Banner from One Charming Party.  I love old comic books, and would hate to see them torn apart, but this banner is so fun I just have to believe the books were beyond saving.

s8

This Superhero Snack Box from Alphamom would be a great gift for the guy who’s always saving the day.

1-wide-shot-600

My son would never have taken off this Rocket Man Jet Pack from Sewing in No Mans Land.  He probably would have tried to sleep in it.

5101156301_59ae49eabd_z

I love how this Superhero Cap and Power Cuff from the Southern Institute is all made from a big t-shirt.

IMG_2146

Maybe you have a superhero fan who feels they’re a little too old for the cape?  These Superhero Shoes from Minimoz are a little more subtle.

this1

My daughter would LOVE this Kapow Headband from Etsy seller janinebasil.

il_570xN.214591180

If you’re a diehard fan and aren’t afraid to show the world, or at least your neighborhood, you need some Superhero Garden Gnomes from Instructables user The Papier Boy.

Superhero-Garden-Gnome-Mod

To the Bat Cave!

Friday Favorites–Gifts for Guys

June.  Father’s Day, graduations and anniversaries of all those weddings from previous Junes provide the perfect opportunity to show that guy you care with a homemade gift.  I know, some of them are nearly impossible to shop for, much less make crafts for.  But I’ve come across a few things that might make your life a little easier.

I’d love to see the tools that would fit in these super-tiny Altoid Tin Mini Toolboxes from AlphaMom.

3572595880_297a59c128

Some rope, two wooden rods, some duct tape and the appropriate tools and you can make him a Duct Tape Hammock like this one from sitzikbs on Instructables.

Duct-Tape-Hammock

Stormdrane and his paracord creations are always a favorite around my house.  This Snake Belly Bar Bracelet is next on our list to try.

CIMG9221_(640_x_386)

My brother-in-law likes to play chess with his boys and one of these days I’m making him this Hardware Chess Set from Dollar Store Crafts.

hardware-chessset

Chess isn’t his thing?  How about a Custom Tile Checkerboard like this one from Aly & Ash?

DSC_0013

This Popsicle Picture Puzzle from Impress Your Kids would be a fun project to make with the little ones.

4668956006_4b65aa92de

Before you decide he’s not a bouquet kind of guy, check out this Beef Bouquet from Moms of All Trades.

DSC_9675_thumb[1]

Sometimes, no matter how many great ideas come your way, a gift card is just the right thing to give.  That doesn’t mean you can’t craft it up.  Try a Shirt Pocket Card from Holiday Crafts and Creations.

Fathers-day-cards-shirt

So, you’ve completely given up on making something?   It’s ok, this Magic Wand Programmable TV Remote from ThinkGeek is just awesome enough to make up for it.

cf9b_the_wand

Before you give up the crafty idea completely, you have to see my favorite Favorite this week.  TSJ Photography made this fantastic sign using her kids to make the letters.  I seriously should have had more than two kids.

fathers-day-gift