Friday, June 17, 2011

Amaretto Breeze

1 8-oz pkg, PHILADELPHIA BRAND cream cheese, softened
1/2 c Sour cream
1/2 c Sugar
3 tb Amaretto, or almond flavored liqueur
2 tb Whipping cream
1 pt Blackberries or Blueberries
1 pt Strawberries

Beat cream creese and sour cream in small mixing bowl at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Blend in sugar, liqueur and cream. Chill well. Place berries in individual servin dishesl top with cream cheese sauce. Prep time: 10 minutes plus chilling.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Foods to avoid during Pregnancy period

Raw Meat: You may have been a fan of a good 'beef carpaccio' or round of sushi before pregnancy, but be sure to avoid raw or undercooked meat at all costs during your pregnancy. 'Rare' is simply not an option while pregnant. Why? Rare meats may contain bacteria, toxoplasmosis and Salmonella, all of which are harmful to your unborn baby.

You are twice as likely to experience food poisoning while pregnant, so be sure to ask for your meat prepared well.

Deli Meats: A sandwich is harmless right? Wrong! Prepared meats, such as those available at a deli counter, including hot dogs or turkey, beef and chicken preparations, should not be consumed unless you re-heat them until steaming. Why?

These preparations may be contaminated with a substance called Listeria. These bacteria can harm your baby severely, and may even cause miscarriage or result in a stillborn delivery. Listeria is nothing to joke about, thus it is vital that you avoid the deli counter while pregnant.

Imported Soft Cheeses: Like deli meat, imported unpasteurized cheeses including blue cheese, feta, Brie or camembert should be avoided. These may also contain Listeria.

However, soft cheeses that are made with pasteurized milk are safe to eat. It is important to check out the label. If you are not sure whether or not a product is pasteurized, you should in general avoid it.

Undercooked eggs: Raw eggs or undercooked eggs have the potential to contain Salmonella. Raw eggs are often included in many commercial products including Egg Nog and some forms of Caesar salad dressing.

Be sure to check out the labels before you consume any of these products. Signs of salmonella food poisoning may include: fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

When indulging in eggs during your pregnancy, keep the following in mind:
  • Keep eggs always refrigerated until cooked.
  • Do not use cracked eggs.
  • Wash all utensils after contact with raw eggs.
  • Eat eggs immediately after cooking.
  • Foods containing eggs should be refrigerated.
  • Do not eat dishes that contain Hollandaise Sauce or Caesar Salads which uses raw eggs.
Fish: While eating fish can be beneficial during your pregnancy, there are certain types of fish that you should avoid. These include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, excess tuna and tile fish, as all of these contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your unborn child's nervous system.

Generally it is safe to eat 12 ounces of other fish including salmon and tilapia, which are full of nutritious benefits. Canned tuna should also be avoided due to high levels of mercury contamination.

Caffeine: While a small amount of caffeine (1 small cup a day) may provide a much needed lift for pregnant moms, in general caffeine should be avoided during pregnancy. High amounts of caffeine consumption have been linked with birth defects and increased risks of miscarriage.

Remember that caffeine is present in many every day food items including chocolate, tea and soda. To play it safe you should avoid caffeine entirely during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to reduce the likelihood of miscarriage. Daily caffeine intake of more than four to seven cups of coffee a day appears to double the risk of spontaneous miscarriage.

AlcoholAlcohol is harmful to your baby's development. Alcohol will cross the placenta and affect your baby, so every time you drink when you are pregnant your baby does to.

If you are pregnant and have been drinking alcohol, stop now! There is no determined level of alcohol consumption that is considered safe during pregnancy. Daily consumption of alcohol in early pregnancy might lead to a condition called fetal alcohol syndrome.

Artificial Sweetners: If you're a regular diet soda guzzler, you may want to switch to another type of drink during pregnancy. A new study published in a July 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks during pregnancy may increase your risk of preterm delivery.

It is important during pregnancy to learn which foods are safe to eat and which foods you should avoid. By doing so you will provide the best possible environment for your baby to grow and develop in.

A healthy pregnancy depends on a healthy diet. For the best possible health benefits, talk to your health care provider about a balanced diet rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals from fresh food sources.

With a bit of planning and encouragement, you can learn to plan wonderful, tasty meals that will satisfy your cravings and benefit the health of your unborn child as well. 

10 ways to stay healthy

1. Spice up your morning eggs. Cayenne and other forms of red pepper contain capsaicin, a substance that suppresses appetite signals, increases metabolism and decreases the desire for food later in the day. In addition, eggs are high in protein, which tends to induce feelings of fullness.
2. Consume fiber early in the day. Fiber increases levels of appetite-suppressing signals in the small intestine. Eating fiber early in the day makes people less hungry in the afternoon -- the time when most of us tend to eat snacks and other calorie-dense foods. Consume about 30 g of fiber daily in the form of high-fiber cereals, fruits and vegetables, and 100% whole grains.
3. Eat nuts. The monounsaturated fat in nuts stimulates the production ofcholecystokinin (CCK), a chemical messenger that slows the rate at which the stomach empties and reduces appetite without putting your body into starvation mode -- that is, the point at which it starts conserving calories, rather than burning them. Before lunch and/or dinner, have about six walnuts, 12 almonds or 12 hazelnuts.
4. Drink coffee instead of soft drinks. Coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated) is a rich source of antioxidants, and Americans consume more of it than any other antioxidant-rich food. Coffee is much lower in calories (if you don't add a lot of sugar and/or creamer) than sugary soft drinks. Bonus: Caffeine stimulates the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that suppresses appetite and promotes calorie burning by increasing heart rate and metabolism. Green tea also is a rich source of antioxidants and caffeine.
5. Supplement with 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). Related to the amino acid tryptophan and sold as a weight-loss supplement, 5-HTP increases brain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmiter that controls appetite. In one study, people taking 5-HTP for six weeks lost an average of 12 pounds, compared with only four pounds in a control group. Recommended dose:300 mg daily. (Check with your physician if you are pregnant, lactating, taking medication or if you have a health condition.) Bonus: 5-HTP has mood-enhancing benefits.
6. Turn up the thermostat. One reason that people tend to eat more during the cold months is that cold temperatures stimulate appetite. Also, people with naturally low body temperatures tend to have a slower metabolism and are more prone to weight gain. Staying warm may be a natural form of appetite control, particularly if you increase body temperature with exercise. Every one degree increase in body temperature increases metabolism by 14%.
7. Ask your doctor about Tagamet. The active ingredient (cimetidine) in this heartburn drug is thought to activate appetite-suppressing CCK. One 12-week study found that people taking a prescription form of Tagamet (400 mg, three times daily) had about a 5% decrease in waist size.Important: Tagamet is unlikely to cause significant side effects, but should be taken to aid weight loss only if you have heartburn symptoms.
8. Consider using nicotine. It's common for people who quit smoking to gain weight, probably because the nicotine in tobacco suppresses appetite, increases metabolism and damages taste buds, which makes food less appealing. Studies have shown that nicotine -- in the form of patches and gum, not from cigarettes -- when combined with small amounts of caffeine, can help some people lose weight.
If you've hit a weight plateau: Talk to your doctor about combining a nicotine patch with two cups of coffee daily. Even for nonsmokers, this approach can be used temporarily (to avoid possible addiction risk) to jump-start weight-loss efforts.
9. Smell grapefruit. Grapefruit oil, available from aromatherapy shops, emits an aroma that is thought to affect liver enzymes and help promote weight loss. In preliminary research, animals exposed to grapefruit scent for 15 minutes, three times weekly, had a reduction in appetite and body weight.
10. Control emotional stress. People who live with chronic stress (due to family pressures, a fast-paced job, etc.) produce high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases the propensity for the omentum -- a structure located near the stomach -- to store fat. Excessive fat in the omentum can significantly increase waist size.

Baked Apples with Dried Fruits & Walnuts


  • 6 medium Golden Delicious apples
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup raisins, or dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a shallow 8-by-12-inch (or similar) baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Core apples all the way through with an apple corer, making a 1-inch-wide hole. Peel the upper third of each apple. Using a sharp paring knife, score the flesh about 1/4 inch deep around the circumference, more or less where the peeled and unpeeled areas meet. With the paring knife angled down, cut a shallow crater around the top of the hole to help hold the preserves that will go there. Set aside while you make the filling.
  3. Place walnuts, raisins (or dried cranberries) and coconut (if using) in a food processor. Chop the mixture fairly well, but not too fine; you want it to remain somewhat textured. Add syrup, lemon zest, cinnamon and nutmeg; pulse several times to combine.
  4. Place the apples in the prepared baking dish and gently press 1/4 cup filling into each cavity. Spoon a generous tablespoon of preserves onto the crater of each apple.
  5. Combine cider and butter in a small saucepan; heat over low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Pour the liquid over and around the apples.
  6. Cover the apples loosely with tented foil and bake on the center rack for 30 minutes. Remove foil and baste the apples well. Continue to bake, uncovered, for 20 to 35 minutes more (depending on the size of the apples), basting every 10 minutes, until the apples are tender throughout. The best way to test them is with a thin bamboo skewer; the slightest bit of resistance near the center is OK because they'll finish cooking as they cool. Let the apples cool right in the pan, basting periodically. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold, with some of the pan juices spooned over each.

Apricot-Almond Sandwich Cookies

3/4 cup whole almonds
1 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour, (see Note)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, or 3 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon low-fat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup

  1. To prepare cookies: Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat (see Tip).
  2. Process almonds in a blender in 2 batches until finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, 1/2 cup butter, sugar and salt. Knead the mixture with your hands until well blended. (The dough will be dry.) Gather the dough into a ball; divide it into 2 portions.
  3. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or wax paper until 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies using a 2-inch circular cookie cutter. Using a metal spatula, place them 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. (If you like, cut out the centers of half the cookies using a 1-inch cutter.) Gather the scraps, reroll and continue cutting out cookies until the dough is gone. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
  4. Bake the cookies, one batch at a time, until puffed and beginning to color, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. To fill & glaze cookies: Spread preserves on half the cookies; top with the remaining cookies to make sandwiches.
  6. Melt chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter in a double boiler over hot water. Remove from the heat; stir in milk and corn syrup until smooth. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper. Dip each sandwich cookie halfway into the chocolate, then place on the wax paper. When all the cookies are dipped, refrigerate until the chocolate has set, 20 to 30 minutes.

Hot to open coconut at home

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Carrot Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing


  • 2 ounces white chocolate
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/8 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. In small saucepan, melt white chocolate over low heat. Stir until smooth, and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in white chocolate, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and orange extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Mix in heavy cream.
  4. Beat together the eggs, white sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl, and mix in the oil and vanilla. Fold in carrots and pineapple. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix flour mixture into the carrot mixture until evenly moist. Fold in 1/2 cup walnuts. Transfer to the prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks before topping with the icing and sprinkling with remaining walnuts.