Healthy Chocolate Fudge, Homemade “Magic Shell”, Spaghetti with Spinach Garlic & Lemon, Cucumber Apple Salad with Fennel, Marinated Tomatoes, and Black Bean & Corn Salsa…made with l♥ve by the Cookie Mama

Happy August!  I cannot believe that the summer is almost over!  A few blogs ago, I wrote about how the whole summer was stretched out in front of me. Now, I feel like the majority of it lies behind me…SIGH.  In the last few weeks, I have tried a bunch of new recipes, so let’s get right to it.  First I tried a recipe for healthy chocolate fudge.  Healthy fudge??? DSCN8435What does that mean???  That means that there is no white or brown sugar, and no butter in the recipe. I make fudge every year at Christmastime, so when I saw this healthier recipe on Pinterest I was intrigued. In lieu of butter, the recipe calls for coconut oil.   Also, in lieu of sugar, you use another sweetener.  I used vanilla flavored Stevia.  The results??   Meh.  It was okay.  Honestly,  my “regular” fudge is LOADS better.  I made a chocolate peanut butter healthy fudge, and Dan and the kids gave it a “B.”  I am the only person in our house that likes coconut, so I also made a small batch of healthy coconut almond chocolate fudge for myself, and I like that version better.  This is a raw recipe so it needs to remain refrigerated. Going forward, I think I will just stick to “real” fudge, and leave the ingredients alone.  That said, if you are watching your sugar intake closely, this may be worth a try. It was creamy and chocolatey, and hey it got a “B.”  B’s are good right??  ☺ Here is the link to the recipe that I used:

The next recipe I tried was homemade magic shell.  As a kid I LOVED “Magic Shell” on ice cream.  As an adult, I don’t really eat  ice cream too much…maybe a couple of times a year. Anyway, I saw this recipe on “Pinterest” and decided to try it.  Actually, this recipe was part of a recipe that I featured last week.  The strawberry popsicles I wrote about should have been dipped in Magic Shell, but because I added Nutella to the mix, I decided to leave it out.  We don’t usually have ice cream in the house (we aren’t huge ice cream fans), but I DSCN8436had some left over from Victoria’s birthday party, so I decided to make the Magic Shell. The result??  YUM!  The kids had never had Magic Shell before, and they loved it.  It’s probably been ten years or so since I have eaten it, but this is just like I remember. It is ridiculously simple to make, and I always have the ingredients necessary, so I will definitely make it again.  Here is the link to the recipe that I used:  Next time I want to try it on strawberries or pineapple.  The trick is to put the room temperature Magic Shell on something really cold.  So as long at the fruit has been refrigerated, it should work.  Also, if your Magic Shell solidifies at room temp, just microwave it before drizzling. Mine did solidify after a few days, but I stored it in a glass container so microwaving it was no big deal.  For this very reason, I would recommend storing the Magic Shell in a glass container…I used a glass cruet.

The next recipe I made was spaghetti with spinach, garlic, and lemon.  Guess where I came across this recipe??  Yep you guessed it…Pinterest.  Anyway, I had made some spinach pies, and had some fresh spinach left,  so I searched my recipe boards.  As soon as I saw DSCN8457this pin, I knew what I was making for dinner.  Just reading the title of the recipe made my mouth water.  I mean come on…spaghetti…spinach…garlic…lemon…YES PLEASE!  I usually have a few lemons on hand, and I always always have garlic and pasta so I was good to go.  The resulting dish was really good.  We gave it an “A.”  I know it goes without saying, but my Ryan did not try this dish.  Yes pasta is his absolute favorite food, but he likes it plain.  Actually, he likes pasta tossed with a little butter, and then mounded with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. So plain isn’t really accurate.  He just likes it sans sauce.  Anyway the rest of us loved it, and it is a great way to use up fresh spinach, or perhaps spinach that is already getting wilty.  Here is the link to the recipe that I used:   I did make a few substitutions to my pasta dish.  First, I didn’t have a full ten ounces of spinach left, so I just used what I had. Also, I added some dried basil and red pepper flakes to the dish, to spice it up a little bit. Lastly, I shaved some parm on top for extra flavor…YUM.

The next recipe was for cucumber apple salad with fennel.  I love love love to watch the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. I usually get inspired to try something new, and inevitably I go online to copy a few recipes.  Well over the last few years, I’ve see a lot of recipes that use fresh fennel.  Whilst at Whole Foods, on a whim I bought a bulb of fresh fennel.  I have never cooked with fennel before so once I got home, I wasDSCN8480 like…”okay now what?”  Well I perused all my recipes that include fennel, and just one bulb wasn’t going to do it.  Most of my recipes required more than 1 bulb of fennel, or other ingredients that I didn’t have.  So I logged into my Pinterest account and found this recipe. I obviously had the fennel bulb, and I always have apples and cucumbers.  I’m also growing Italian parsley in my herb garden, so I was all set.  After a quick trip out to my garden, I returned to the kitchen and got to work.  Even though, I’d never worked with fennel before,  I knew how to cut it…thank you Food Network.  See Dan… all those DVR’d shows were worth it!! ☺ This recipe earned me an “A.” Dan and I really liked it.  Here is the link to the recipe that I used:  The only substitution I made was the variety of the apple.  I didn’t have any granny smith apples, so I used a yellow delicious.

The next recipe I experimented with was “killer marinated tomatoes.” I found this recipe DSCN8482on Pinterest too.  Dan and I love tomatoes, and in the summertime we eat a lot of them.  I usually make panzanella salad, but I wanted to change it up a bit, so I used the tomatoes this way instead. This is seriously one of the best recipes I have found on Pinterest to date.  The name is totally fitting…they are killer.  This recipe got an “A++++++.”  I used these tomatoes on everything.  We ate DSCN8566them alone of course, but we also made panini, bruschetta, and scooped them up with crostini.  The last dish I made with them was a veggie chick’n parmesan.  I will totally make these again.  FYI…these actually got better the longer they sat and marinated.  Here is the link to the recipe that I used:  The only substitution I made was the oil.  I ditched the canola oil, and used extra virgin olive oil instead.

The last recipe was for black bean and corn salsa.  I have made this salsa multiple times over the years.  I actually found this recipe on the side of a can of beans years ago. We love this salsa, but it has been a bit since I made it last.  I wanted DSCN8730to make veggie enchiladas, and I knew this recipe would compliment that dish perfectly.  I always have whole wheat tortillas, and I had recently grilled some veggies that I wanted to use up. I also had some homemade salsa in the fridge, (to be exact it was “Chili’s  Copycat Salsa” featured back in April 2012’s post), and I knew these two salsas would meld beautifully.  Here is the recipe for the black bean and corn salsa:

  • 15 oz. can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 15 oz. can of corn (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 medium tomato finely diced
  • 1 small red onion finely diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder

1.  Combine the beans, corn, tomatoes, and onions in a bowl.  2.  Mix together and then add lime juice and cumin.  3. Refrigerate any leftovers.

I did make a few substitutions to the recipe.  First, I never have red onion as it doesn’t agree with me, so I used a white onion.  Also, I never have canned corn, but I usually have frozen corn so I used that.  Additionally, my tomatoes were already spoken for, so I used a can of diced tomatoes.  This salsa is delicious, and it especially yummy with some salty nacho chips.  We gave it an “A.”


Ryan at the soccer tournament in Linden ~ June 2013

With August officially underway, there are only a few weeks of “freedom” left.  Once the kids go back to school, our lives change dramatically.  There aren’t as many late nights, and we have a much tighter schedule to keep. I am wondering how it will be for me this fall. This is the first time since Victoria was in the second grade that I don’t have a Girl Scout troop to manage.  Also, it will be the first school year in four years that I am not a board member for the parent group at the elementary.  I will still attend the meetings, and volunteer as much as I can, but I no longer feel that huge sense of responsibility that comes with being an officer. It’s kind of nice actually. Now I can more evenly split my time between both the parent groups that I belong to (the Middle School has one too), and the community advisory boards that I participate in. Additionally, I have picked up a lot more responsibility at the office, and it is taking up more of my time.  So all in all the change in pace comes at a perfect time.  Additionally, Ryan is playing soccer again and there are two games per week. As I type this, Dan is making phone calls to recruit boys to try out for a new soccer opportunity.  For the first time in our region, we are forming an “AYSO Extra Program” for U12 boys.  It’s AYSO’s version of a travel league, and of course Ryan wants to try out.  If he makes it, there will be an extra game scheduled per week, and an uncertain number of weekly scheduled practices. Guess what we will be doing every Saturday and Sunday??? Add to that the soccer tournaments that our team wants to attend, and we are booked every weekend until November.  GULP  Further, Dan is still coaching, and Victoria is still assisting with Ryan’s team.  In addition to coaching,  Dan is the “coach administrator” for the region, so starting next weekend, he is swamped with admin stuff.   It’s almost like Dan and I have swapped places with regards to our volunteerism.  Anyway, I am looking forward to a slower pace this fall…at least for me. Whoa, maybe then I can actually have some time to myself…WHAT A CONCEPT!


I am going to try really really hard to enjoy every moment I can over the next few weeks of “freedom.”  We have a few day trips planned, a  few “play dates” already scheduled, and a few more “summer wish list items” to accomplish.  Every year we compile a “summer list,” and try our best to cross off as many items as possible.  With the few weeks we have left, I’m going to try and make as many “summer dreams” come true as I can.   I hope you enjoy the recipes, and I hope you have a great August! ♥♥


About THE cookie mama

I am not professionally trained in any way shape or form, BUT I come from a long line of really great cooks. I learned mostly by watching my parents and grandparents, and then replicating what they did. I love love love to cook and bake, and I love to share what I make with "my people."
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