Fruit and Yogurt with Walnut Date Topping

Yummy as a light breakfast or as a little pick-me-up snack, this simple fruit bowl has been a favorite of mine this summer. Try it out!

Fruit Bowl

Ingredients:

Swap these 1st four ingredients out as desired to include your favorite fruits. Apples, raspberries, peaches, strawberries…whatever is fresh and in season.

  • 1 chopped nectarine (pit removed, of course!)
  • 1/2 mango chopped
  • 1 handful grapes
  • 1 handful blueberries
  • dollop of greek yogurt

For Topping

  • 1/4 cup of shelled walnuts
  • 3 Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped

You will also need: 

  • A Magic Bullet Blender or a food processor

Directions:

For Topping, Place your walnuts in your food processor and pulse about 3-4 times (quick pulses – you just want to get them started.) Then, add your coarsely chopped dates and continue pulsing until they are well combined and the mixture resembles a finely ground granola or crumb topping. I use my Magic Bullet Blender because it is good for processing small batches of ingredients like these. If you don’t have a Magic Bullet Blender and you don’t feel like using a food processor either, you could just chop these by hand, but I find the consistency is much more yummy when they are pulsed together in a food processor. This will make more topping than what you need for a single serving. Simply save the rest in an airtight container in your fridge and sprinkle on your yogurt and fruit as desired.

As for the rest, it’s pretty self explanatory. Assemble your chopped fruit in a small bowl, add a spoonful of yogurt (I like vanilla) and then sprinkle on the date/walnut crumble. Enjoy!

 

 

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Better Late Than Never…

The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity for my family. Homeschool plays, recitals, and the basic ins and outs of life delayed my gardening a bit this year. But I did get my seeds and plants in the ground last month, and things are finally getting green in the garden. Here’s what’s been growin’ this spring. Mouse over for the caption and click for a closer look.

 

Olive Oil for Matted Cat Fur…Who Knew?

You may have already met Fluffernutter, our beloved feline. Well, Fluff’s fluff has been a bit of a challenge lately. So much so, in fact, that he has several yucky matts on his fur, making his normally shiny plush coat a bit, well, lumpy.

Matted fur, when ignored, can do more than just make kitty lumpy. It can irritate the cat’s skin over time and even cause skin infections.

We have friends that had a matted cat. They ended up shaving him once a year as a matter of course to help prevent further skin irritation. While the idea of having a shaved cat nicknamed Fluffy seemed delightfully ironic, I just could not bring myself to consider that option before exploring all the alternatives. So as is my custom, I began the obligatory web research. Most of what I read recommended the same four options:

  1. Shaving
    Like I said, not there yet. Moving on…
  2. Detangling by hand by pulling the matt apart in sections.
    Yeah.
    My cat’s not putting up with that. He’s got a line, and once you cross it…look out. And besides, who has time for that?
  3. Cutting Them Out
    Obviously this does work. I had previously cut a few off of our cat. But after reading account after account of cats going to the vet with gashes in their skin because their owners got too close to the flexible stretchy skin attached to the fur, I swore off any more cutting.
  4. Baby Oil
    Apparently, all you have to do is rub a little baby oil on the top and bottom of the matt at its base (by the skin) and after just a few days…*poof*… the well-oiled matts fall off. Post after post attested to it’s effectiveness. Magical matts dropping to the ground all over the place. This caught my attention.

The idea of using baby oil freaked me out a bit, though. The crunchy granola, chemical eschewer in me did not like the idea of my cat possibly ingesting baby oil from grooming the application site. Then I saw a few other posts about:

  • Olive Oil
    Hmmm. This sounded a bit better. So the next time the cat was in the kitchen I put a little olive oil on one of his more pesky matts. Worth a try, I thought.

Two days, nothing. Three days. Still no change. Reapplied one more time. Nothing. Then one week later…

Magical!

Magical!

There was the matt. Sitting on the floor. Just like everyone had described. I’m a believer. The next matt is getting oiled up this evening. I will keep you posted if it works again.

Obligatory Disclaimer: I’m not a vet. Olive oil did not harm my cat, but you may want to check with your vet before you slather some on yours.

 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

You really can’t go wrong with any recipe that has “chocolate” twice in its name, can you? Well, this recipe is no exception. I originally found this recipe on About.com. The only thing I did differently was to use the extra muffin batter for a brownie-like cake (more on that below.)

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

Adapted from a recipe by Danilo Alfaro on About.com

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus 1/3 cup additional chocolate chips for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Thoroughly grease and flour a muffin pan, or you can use paper muffin liners.
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, combine the milk and the melted butter. (I add the milk just a little bit at a time so the butter doesn’t harden up again.) Then add the oil, and finally whisk in the beaten eggs and stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix, or your muffins may be tough or hard. The batter should be visibly lumpy.
  5. With a rubber spatula, gently fold 1 cup of chocolate chips into the batter. Again – don’t overwork the batter.
  6. Carefully spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan. I was able to fill the muffin cups up about ¾ of the way and they rose just the right amount for my liking.
  7. Finally, sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips onto the tops of the muffins, and transfer to the oven immediately.
  8. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Mmm...Muffins!

Notes:

The original recipe says this batter makes 12 to 18 muffins. It definitely makes more than 12. In fact, I had enough leftover batter to pour into a small 8 inch round cake pan. I kept a close eye on this cake in the oven and pulled it out before the muffins (at about 15 minutes.) The resulting cake was thin, but still moist and a perfect base for a brownie bottom sundae. :-) However, you can always just make more muffins, if you have more than one muffin pan. Enjoy!

Mango Cranberry Smoothie

This little smoothie was a bright spot in my otherwise dreary day yesterday. I had gone since November with nary a sniffle, but then…WHAM! A head cold hit out of nowhere. Well, actually, I think it came from the direction of my son’s room. But let’s not point any fingers.

As I trudged around the house yesterday morning, my head heavy and my back aching, the thought of a smoothie entered my addled brain. The ultimate reward of something cool and tangy to sip quickly overtook my fatigue and before I knew it I was raiding the fridge, freezer, and fruit basket. Mango…check! Yogurt…check! Banana that’s not completely disgusting yet…check! I even had the mental wherewithal to write down measurements as I went, just in case it was post-worthy good.

Well, it definitely made the post-worthy cut. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. The mango and cranberry provided the perfect blend of sweet and tang, along with a healthy dose of the vitamin C that I was craving. Just what the doctor ordered on my feel yucky day. Feel free to substitute and trade out what you have on hand. That’s the joy of smoothies, after all!

Mango Cranberry Smoothie

Click for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients

Makes 2 servings (or one if you’re feeling greedy)

  • ½ cup mango (peeled, chopped)
  • 1 banana (peeled, chopped)
  • 1 (5.3 oz.) container Chobani Mango Greek Yogurt (that’s what I had on hand, substitute to your heart’s desire)
  • 1 cup orange juice (mango or apple juice would also be yummy)
  • 1½ cup ice
  • ¼ cup cranberries

Directions – Place ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Sip. Feel better.