Easter “Garden” Cups

Easter is a time for brunches and family dinners, but it’s also a time for candy and sweets straight from the Easter bunny! When you’re going to see your friends or family for a party or dinner, you should always bring something with you. Here’s a sweet treat you can bring for dessert without too much frantic effort. Plus they’re adorable! Happy Easter! Enjoy these cute Easter dirt cups.

Ingredients:

“CARROTS”

  • Fresh strawberries, rinsed and patted dry
  • Bag of orange candy melts (from Michael’s or Jo-Ann Fabrics)

PUDDING CUPS

  • Crushed Oreos
  • 1 large box chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups milk

Instructions:

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

2. Melt the bag of candy melts, except for about 15 discs.

I used the microwave to melt the chocolate discs. I put it in a small glass bowl for 1 minute. Then repeat in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.

3. Grab the strawberries by the stem. Dip both sides in chocolate, then place on the parchment paper. Repeat with all the strawberries.

4. Put the strawberries in the fridge until the chocolate hardens.

5. Take a sandwich bag and cut the tip of it off. Melt the rest of the discs. Pour the melted chocolate into the sandwich bag. Close the bag and twist it. Drizzle over the strawberries. Let sit.

6. Make the chocolate pudding according to the instructions on the box.

I made the pudding first so it could sit in the fridge while I worked on everything else.

7. Put some crushed Oreos on the bottom of some clear cups. Pour pudding over top of them.

8. Top with more crushed Oreos. Press a strawberry into the center.

9. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve/bring them to the party!

Final Thoughts: Mine turned out a little differently. I didn’t drizzle the strawberries with more chocolate, and I didn’t put Oreos on the bottom of the cup. These were a hit at the Easter party at work! And they are so incredibly adorable. A big group of them together is like a little garden!

Study Snacks: Chocolate PB Banana Bites

Sugar has always been my vice. For me, losing weight depended primarily on cutting back on chocolate, candy, and other sweets. Trying to quit sugar usually results in cravings for sweets. To combat the cravings, I started buying packages of frozen Dole chocolate dipped bananas. Each package contains 3 slices of frozen banana covered in dark chocolate.

Eventually, I realized it was a little silly that I was paying for chocolate dipped bananas that I could make myself. You may not require a recipe, but I figured I could at least share the directions from this recipe just in case. (There’s no shame. We’ve all been there.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peanut or nut butter (I used organic no-stir PB)
  • 10 oz dark chocolate – I used dark chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

1. Slice the bananas and arrange half of the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

I had to slice off some of the brown parts, but you should only need a butter knife to slice them.

 

2. Spread the peanut/nut butter on one half of the slices.

3. Top with the other half of banana slices and freeze for at least one hour.

 

4. Meanwhile, put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then repeat in 15 second intervals until the chocolate is melted.

5. Remove bites from the freezer and dip them into melted chocolate. Work quickly so they don’t thaw and get mushy. Using two forks, dip a bite in chocolate and roll it so it’s covered in chocolate. Let the excess drip off before putting it back on the baking sheet.

6. Freeze at least 3 hours. Store in the freezer.

 

Final Thoughts: I’m not 100% that these are particularly healthy, but they are tasty! I would avoid snacking on too many at once, but 2 or 3 can really help with cravings. I turn to them instead of candy or ice cream in the office or at home.

Pistachio Crusted Camembert

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely idolize Jacques Pepin. For those of you who don’t know, Jacques Pepin was a dear friend of the famous James Beard and Julia Child. He is still alive and cooking at a ripe old age. I try to catch his shows on Sundays. He is an excellent chef, but welcomes newcomers and those of us with average kitchen skills to make a delicious meal.

I also love soft cheeses like brie, so when I found his recipe for Camembert, I rushed to the French Grocery to grab some of the stinky French cheese. This is a classy appetizer that takes very little effort. It’s no-bake!

  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts
  • 1 Camembert cheese round (about 9 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Crackers, for serving
Note on the Ingredients: I buy my Camembert from French Grocery in downtown Phoenix (one of my favorite restaurants).  I’ve also seen it in grocery stores. Keep in mind it is highly unlikely any of these cheese will be made with raw, unpasteurized milk.

Instructions:

1) Process the nuts in a food processor until pulverized but not ground into a powder. I’d recommend pulsing, instead of just running the food processor.

2) Unwrap the cheese. Brush the top and sides of the cheese with the honey.

You can scrape off the outer crust, but I leave it on. It’s such a shame to remove the rind.

3)  Sprinkle a layer of nuts on top of the Camembert. Pat more nuts around the sides with the other hand, pressing lightly on the nuts so they stick.

4) Put the remaining nuts in the center of a serving platter and place the cheese on top.

5) Sprinkle the cranberries around the cheese and serve at room temperature, with crackers.

Final Thoughts: For some reason my soft cheeses never get very soft. Does anyone have any tricks for softening Brie or Camembert? In the US, these cheeses in their pure form (unpasteurized) are illegal. I’m sure Jacques Pepin manages to get his hands on the “real” stuff. Maybe I’m not leaving the cheese at room temperature for long enough.

I’d also like some recommendations on crackers if you guys have any! I tried butter crackers, Ritz crackers, and some sesame crackers. Ritz crackers seemed to work the best (probably due to the higher fat content), but they don’t quite seem classy enough to match this treat. Any suggestions?