Healthier Ranch Dip for your Kids

Most kids love ranch, right?  Sometimes the only way to get them to eat a vegetable is to dredge it in ranch first.  Well that’s all well and good, but traditional ranch dressing is very high in fat and low on protein- almost negates the vegetable value. Here’s a ranch dip that gets a few more marks on the healthy scale.   You can adjust seasonings to your liking.



Amish-Style Pretzels

Who doesn’t love big, soft pretzels, right?  These pretzels taste kind of like a pretzel-bread stick hybrid.  They are easier to make than traditional “boiled” pretzels and my family loves them with honey mustard or cheese dip.  I recently baked a batch and put them on the counter, thinking that before I went to bed I should wrap them up or freeze them.  Well that was wasted brain power! The only things saying goodnight to me on that counter were a few crumbs and a dip-encrusted napkin! These are fun to make with your kids.  It’s one of my more popular kids’ party items.


“Carrot” Covered Strawberries

I saw these beautiful treats on the Harry & David website and decided to give it a go myself.  I was very pleased with how they turned out.  Most people love chocolate covered strawberries and this way gives it a fun twist for Easter.  Here’s exactly how I did these.  I’m including the Tips and Tricks I use.

-For dipping, choose berries that have nice green tops, dark red flesh, and are relatively the same size.
-For the covering, I used orange Wilton Candy Melts.  They are basically colored white chocolate disks.
-Rinse the berries and lay out on a towel to dry. A big key to success is to have berries as dry as possible before dipping.
-In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the candy melts for 1 minute on 50% power and stir.  Continue melting and stirring in 30-second increments until candy is completely smooth.
-Gather the entire green top of each berry into your fingers before dipping, with none of the leaves hanging down to get into the chocolate.
-Holding the strawberries by the green tops, dip and “roll” them until the orange covering comes as close to the base of the green as possible.  Tilting the bowl helps.  The goal is to have none of the red berry showing.  (If there is any showing, push the green tops down a little to hide it once the berries are on the paper.)
-Shake off excess chocolate and lay each berry on waxed paper or parchment (lay berry on its side).
-Give it 10 minutes or so to set up.
-Pour more of the candy melts into a disposable pastry bag and microwave in 30-second increments on 50% power to melt, squishing the bag in your hands between time increments until completely melted.  Snip off the end of the bag for piping.
-Set a rack over a baking sheet and place the dipped berries on the rack.
-With a sweeping motion, pipe lines of melted candy on the berries, being sure to sweep wide, “off” the berry so that some runs down through the rack.  This will create the layered effect of orange on orange that looks so pretty. The lines should be 1/4″-1/2″ apart. Doesn’t need to be perfect!  Ok to cross them over.
-Once the berries are set again, place on waxed paper or parchment, cover and store in the refrigerator.

That’s it!

A Few Easter Recipes.. Chocolate Nests, Bunny’s Favorite Dip, and Citrus Fruit Dip

It’s starting to feel like spring!  Yay!!!  Finally!!  The sunshine and warm temperatures put me in the mood to do some Easter recipes.  First of all let’s talk about the kids. Whether you’re hosting an Easter party or taking some snacks to school, these cute and easy Easter nests are terrific!  My biggest issue with most Easter-themed recipes is that they often taste like sticky, sweet, marshmallowy goo.  Yep, you guessed. I do not like Peeps! These chocolate nests are actually tasty AND cute. Try!

Next, wouldn’t it be nice to have something a little bit healthy for that kids’ Easter party?  I created Bunny’s Favorite Dip for something fun and healthy.

Lastly, I’ll bet many of you plan to serve some kind of fresh fruit at your Easter gathering.  I can’t think of a better accompaniment than this Citrus Fruit Dip.  It’s just plain luscious.  I served it at a brunch recently and after my girlfriends and I had eaten all the fruit, we still had some dip left.  We discovered that it was delicious smeared on pancakes.  You’ll love it!

Straw-Melon Soup and Re-post of Chicken & Dumplings

During the first warm day of the year I decided to break out one of my favorite summertime recipes for a kids’ cooking class.  We whipped up some Straw-Melon Soup and the kids devoured it!  It tastes like Summer.  Sip some summer for yourself.    Also, I’m re-posting the Chicken & Dumplings recipe because I found a typo!  Use this one instead.