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ONLINE EXTRA: PERFECT SNACKS -- Chewy Granola Bars . . . Citrus Surprise Cake . . . Oreo Cheesecake, etc.

Chewy Granola Bars

1 1/3 cups rolled oats

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

½ cup oat bran

1½ cups crisp brown rice cereal

1 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped

½ cup brown rice syrup

¼ cup turbinado sugar

½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease an 8-inch square glass baking dish, and set aside.

Mix oats, seeds, oat bran, cereal, cranberries and ginger in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine rice syrup, sugar and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; add vanilla.

Pour over the oat mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until all is moist and coated.

Spread mixture into prepared dish. Cover the mixture with a piece of parchment paper and press down firmly with your hands or a weight. Refrigerate if necessary to get the mixture to stay together. Let sit until firm, cut into pieces.

Yield: 16 2-inch bars.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 151 calories, 18 percent of calories from fat, 3 grams fat (no saturated), no cholesterol, 30 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 79 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Citrus Surprise Cake


2 cups (8 ounces) white whole-wheat flour; see cook's notes

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

5 large egg yolks (save the whites)

½ cup vegetable oil

1½ cups sugar

1/3 cup water

¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon freshly grated grapefruit zest (colored part of peel)

5 large egg whites

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar


2 16-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

3 cups (12 ounces) sifted powdered sugar

2 teaspoons freshly grated grapefruit zest (colored part of peel)

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (colored part of peel)

1 tablespoon fresh grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Garnish: 1 grapefruit, peeled, cut into sections

For serving: vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper or wax paper; grease paper.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

Combine egg yolks and oil in large mixing bowl and mix at low speed while gradually pouring in sugar. Add water, grapefruit juice; beat 20 seconds. Add dry ingredients. Beat 3 minutes on medium speed, then stop and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Mix in grapefruit zest.

In separate bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until foamy. (Any grease left on beaters will keep eggs from whipping to their proper volume). Add cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Carefully fold beaten egg whites into cake batter. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake until top of cake pulls away from edge of pan, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove cakes from oven and run a dinner knife around edge of each cake. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove layers from their pans and peel off paper. Cool completely on wire racks, then refrigerate or freeze before frosting.

To make frosting, blend cream cheese and powdered sugar in large bowl until smooth (or use food processor, pulsing to combine). Add grated zests and juices; beat until smooth.

Place one layer of cake on cake plate. Spread with about 2/3 cup of frosting. Top with second layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting and garnish with grapefruit segments. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Yield: Serves 16.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 260 calories 260, 79 percent of calories from fat, 3.1 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 65 milligrams cholesterol, 450 milligrams sodium, 1.5 grams fiber.

Oreo Cheesecake

30 Oreo or other chocolate sandwich cookies, divided use

6 tablespoons butter, melted Cheesecake:

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sour cream

4 eggs

To make crust: Mix 15 cookies and butter in a food processor. Press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

To make cheesecake: Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat in sour cream and eggs, one at a time. Crumble remaining 15 cookies; add 1½ cups of crumbled cookies to cream cheese mixture.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle rest of crumbled cookies over top. Refrigerate overnight or until completely chilled.


1 cup sugar

6 cups flour

1½ tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter

4 ounces cream cheese

1½ cups buttermilk

1 cup filling (see note)

Mix all dry ingredients together then cut in butter and cream cheese. Add buttermilk and filling. Form into scones and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Note: You can use dried cherries or raspberries for its scone filling.

Danish Puff


2 cups flour

1 cup butter, softened

¼ cup water


1 cup butter

2 cups water

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 cups flour

6 eggs


2 cups powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon almond extract


To make first layer: Mix 2 cups flour and 1 cup butter to form a crumb mixture. Sprinkle water over top. Mix and form into a ball. Divide in half. Pat each ball into a strip about 4 inches by 8 inches and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

To make second layer: In a saucepan, mix 1 cup butter and water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add 2 teaspoons almond extract.

Measure flour into a bowl. Add butter mixture and mix quickly with an electric beater to prevent lumps. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Spread over both dough strips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until golden brown.

To make topping: In mixing bowl, mix powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon almond extract with enough milk to make a glaze. Spread over Danish puff. Sprinkle with slivered almonds, if desired.

Jumbo Sugar Cookies

1½ cups butter (don't use margarine)

1½ cups Crisco or other shortening

3 cups sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

6 tablespoons milk

7½ cups flour

1½ teaspoons baking soda

2¼ teaspoons salt

Mix butter and shortening on medium-high until blended. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well.

Using an ice cream scoop, place cookie dough onto greased pan. Flatten slightly with a sugar dipped cup (make sure it has a flat bottom).

Bake in a 325-degree oven for 5 minutes, turn pan and continue to bake about 4 minutes longer or until edges are just lightly browned. Cool and decorate with frosting.

Triple Chocolate Biscotti

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1½ teaspoons vanilla

8 ounces chocolate chips or chopped semi- or bittersweet chocolate

8 ounces white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate

Line 2 large cookie sheets with heavy-duty foil. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla. Add flour/cocoa mixture just until it combines. By hand, fold in the chocolate and white chocolate chips.

Put half of the dough on each cookie sheet and with wet fingertips shape into a log, about 3 inches wide and 12 inches long, at least. Refrigerate for a half-hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake logs one sheet at a time, for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack and a tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and then cut into 1-inch thick slices and place back on baking sheet. Pop back into the oven for about 8 minutes, then turn them over, and bake for another 8 minutes. Let them cool completely, then store in an airtight container. These are better the next day.

Yield: About 30.

Approximate nutritional analysis per biscotti: 162 calories, 7 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 109 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 40 percent of calories from fat.

Homemade Cinnamon-Sugar Graham Crackers

1 cup wheat flour

1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon sea salt

7 tablespoons butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and frozen

1/3 cup honey

5 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons vanilla

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a food processor or in a bowl with a pastry blender, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and pulse or mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal (it doesn't have to be uniform).

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add this to the flour mixture until the dough comes together.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and put the dough on top, shaping it into a large rectangle, about 1-inch thick. Pop the dough in the fridge for 2 hours, at least, or in the freezer for an hour.

Divide the dough in half and put half in the fridge so it stays cool. Roll the dough out in a large, thin rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick, and using a knife, either cut out 4-inch squares or use a large cookie cutter. Place the crackers on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and put in the fridge for a half-hour or 15 minutes in the freezer. Make sure they're nice and firm before you bake them.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon mixture together in a small bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is hot, pull out one cookie sheet of crackers (bake only one at a time), and using a fork, make dotted lines, being careful not to poke holes all the way through the dough. Dust with cinnamon and sugar and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (or if you have a convection setting, use this and bake for only 7-8 minutes), rotating halfway so they bake evenly. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Yield: Makes 24 4-inch squares.

Approximate nutritional analysis per square: 125 calories, 4 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 9 milligrams cholesterol, 150 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, and 25 percent of calories from fat.

Cowgirl Granola Bars

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup sesame seeds

2 cups oats, triticale or a mixture

½ cup chopped figs

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for oiling cookie sheet

½ cup honey

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 1/2-inch-by-10-inch rimmed cookie sheet (it's important to use a rimmed one) with heavy-duty foil. With a paper towel, oil the surface and sides well. Set aside.

Toast the sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. This shouldn't take more than 10 minutes; watch them closely so they don't burn.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, toasted seeds and dried figs.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, honey, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Cook this only until the brown sugar melts and the ingredients come together, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour the spice-sugar mixture over the oats and seeds and, with a wooden spoon, stir to make sure they are evenly coated. Press into the oiled cookie sheet, using a spatula to make sure you get a nice even thickness. Slide into the oven for 30 minutes or until it begins to brown. Let cool completely and with a very sharp knife, slice into squares. Either wrap individually in wax or parchment paper, or store in an airtight container.

Yield: Makes 25 4-inch-by-2-inch bars.

Approximate nutritional analysis per bar: 125 calories, 5 grams fat, 18 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, no cholesterol, 45 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber,34 percent of calories from fat.

Oven-Fried Potato Chips

6 medium potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick (note)

¼ cup vegetable oil

Sea salt


Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly brush the potatoes with vegetable oil and lay out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, too, if you'd like (or you may want to add your own touch here -- I like chipotle powder).

Bake in oven. When you see the edges start to brown, after about 10 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 10. Watch them carefully so they don't burn.

Note: Slice the potatoes with a knife or a mandolin.

Yield: Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 338 calories, 14 grams fat, 50 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, no cholesterol, 134 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 36 percent of calories from fat.

Toffee Popcorn

8 cups popped popcorn (microwave reduced-fat butter flavor works fine)

2 cups miniature pretzels

¾ cup peanuts

1 8-ounce package Bits 'O Brickle Toffee Bits (no chocolate added; toffee bits only)

½ cup light corn syrup

Candy-coated chocolate kisses or Easter eggs (optional)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease a large roasting pan. Place popcorn, pretzels and peanuts in prepared pan.

Combine toffee bits and corn syrup in a heavy medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until toffee is melted. This takes about 12 minutes.

Pour mixture over popcorn mixture in the greased pan. Stir until evenly coated.

Bake 30 minutes, stirring frequently to distribute toffee coating and to keep it from sticking to the pan.

Remove from oven. Stir mixture every 2 minutes until slightly cooled, about 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Stir in optional chocolate candy. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Yield: Serves 12 (1 cup each).

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 261 calories, 40 percent of calories from fat, 12 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 410 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber, 37 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein.

Fruit and Nut Balls

½ cup dried apricots

½ cup blanched almonds

1/3 cup raisins

5 ounces white chocolate

1/3 cup dried coconut

Fruit and Nut Balls

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Chop the apricots, almonds and raisins very fine or whiz them in a food processor.

Melt white chocolate (see sidebar). Then stir in chopped fruit, almonds and coconut.

Gather together about 18 bits of the mixture to form into small balls. Put the balls on the cookie sheet and let them set for 1 to 2 hours. If mixture seems runny at first, chocolate may have been overheated; wait for mixture to cool and it will gather together more easily to be rolled into balls.

Note: Other add-in options include cornflakes, rice cereal, chopped, dried fruit to taste. Drizzle balls with additional melted white chocolate, if desired.

Yield: Makes 18 balls.

Approximate nutritional analysis per piece: 93 calories, 47 percent of calories from fat, 5 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 2 milligrams cholesterol, 9 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein.

Easy Macaroons

1 14-ounce package shredded coconut

1 14.5-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Green food coloring (optional, see note)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Mix ingredients, adding food coloring until mixture is desired intensity. Drop from a teaspoon onto prepared cookie sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly; remove to rack.

Note: Turn these cookies into Easter nests by adding green food coloring to the mixture. Gently push Easter egg candies, such as candy-coated malted milk eggs or speckled jelly beans, into center of each macaroon.

Yield: 3½ dozen.

Approximate nutritional analysis per cookie: 92 calories, 36 percent of calories from fat), 4 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 42 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber, 14 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein.

Oven Nut Brittle

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts or 4 ounces pumpkin seeds

1 egg white

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.

Mix sugar, cayenne, salt and nuts in medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until foamy, but not stiff. Fold egg white into seed mixture. Mixture will be crumbly.

Using a spatula or hands, spread the mixture evenly on pan. The thin layer will measure about 6 by 10 inches.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until completely golden brown. Mixture will foam, rise and expand as it cooks, then flatten as it cools.

Cool completely and break into pieces.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

3 large red bell peppers

2 cloves garlic, unpeeled

½ to 1 cup ricotta cheese, drained

½ to 1 teaspoon salt

Heat broiler or grill. Roast the peppers and garlic cloves on a foil-covered broiler rack, turning as needed, until skins blacken on all sides, about 30 minutes. Place peppers in a small brown paper bag (or place in a bowl; cover with plastic wrap) until cool. Remove skin and seeds. Place peppers in bowl of a food processor; squeeze roasted garlic out of skins into the bowl. Pulse until nearly pureed. Add 1/2 cup of the ricotta cheese and salt to taste; pulse until well blended, adding more cheese, if needed for dipping consistency.

Yield: ¾ cup.

Approximate nutritional analysis per tablespoon: 31 calories, 38 percent of calories from fat, 1 gram fat (1 gram saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 107 milligrams sodium, 1 grams fiber.

Creamy Basil-Onion Dip

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2/3 cup light mayonnaise

1/3 cup low-fat yogurt, preferably Greek

¼ cup finely chopped basil

Freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add the garlic and vinegar; cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 5 minutes. Pour the onion-garlic mixture into a small bowl; stir in the mayonnaise, yogurt, basil and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Yield: About 1 cup.

Approximate nutritional analysis per tablespoon: 56 calories, 79 percent of calories from fat, 5 grams fat (no saturated), 4 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, no protein, 87 milligrams sodium, no fiber.