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Really Good Low-fat Raisin Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Life is good with a raisin oatmeal cookie! These are wonderful after-school snack or take-along cookies made even better because they are very low in fat and sugar. A little yogurt and oil substitute for butter, and there’s not too much brown sugar. Nutritionals clock in at about half the fat and calories of most traditional raisin oatmeal cookies.  When I first tested this recipe Sun-Maid sent to me, called ‘Really Good Raisin Oatmeal Cookies’, I was surprised how ‘really good’ they were. I reduced the sugar a little and think they’re even better now. Get the recipe HERE.

While you’re getting this yummy cookie recipe, check out nutrition information from RaisinYourNutrition. There is a very good article with the latest news about eggs and health; another about ‘good foods vs. bad foods‘ and the confusion with gluten-free foods; and the new food labeling law which was supposed to go into affect in 2018.  The current government administration has delayed it, but many companies are moving forward anyway so you’ll be seeing the  new label on food packages soon.  It’s all good, and will make it easier to compare foods and decipher labels.

Really Good Low-Fat Raisin Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

Recipe makes one 9×13-inch pan; 20 bars.

Calories 126; Protein 2g; Fat 2g (Sat. Fat 0.1g); Carbohydrate 26g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 126mg

Posted in Desserts, Rosie's Kitchen | 2 Responses

Mango Tango Ice Pops

A refreshing, ice-y treat before summer ends? I shared this last August, and just had to again. Rummy-yummy and super easy, my adult popsicles are great for parties, picnics, barbecues, beach bashes – you name it. Tropical fruits are perfect partners with rum and Angostura orange bitters. And of course, fruit adds a healthy punch. The Zipzicle ice pop sleeves make these an especially fun and portable treat. A cooler with plenty of ice is all you need to take them on a picnic or to the backyard.

The pops may be made well in advance – ready to go when you are. I made so many of these last summer when I was testing, that I still have some in my freezer! And they’re still very slurpable :o)  Leave out the rum if you want a frozen fruit treat for youngsters.

If you’re a Manhattan drinker like Rosie and her dad, Ralph, try Rosie’s Tropical Manhattan Pops below. Rosie and Ralph were taste-testers for the Mango Tango Pops, then tried their favorite Manhattan in a pop.  Let us know which variation you like best! We like both 🙂

Print This Recipe

Mango Tango Ice Pops

Prep time: 15 minutes if using pre-cut fruit     Freeze time: 2-3 hours

Makes 12 ice pops (4 cups puree)

1/2     cup Angostura® 7-Year Caribbean Rum (4 oz.)
1/4     tsp. Angostura® Orange Bitters
3        cups diced* ripe mango (about 16 oz.)
3        cups diced fresh pineapple (about 16 oz.)
12      Zipzicle® ice pop sleeves*
Funnel with 1/2” opening at the bottom

Measure rum in a liquid measuring cup; stir in orange bitters and set aside.

Place diced mango in blender container. Add half the rum mixture; cover and blend until smooth. If needed, stop blender and stir fruit a bit. When fruit is smooth, pour into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or a pitcher with a spout. Repeat with pineapple and remaining rum-bitters mix. Add to pureed mango, stirring well.

Open ice pop sleeves. With the funnel, fill one at a time, stopping at the fill line. Seal and place upright in a tall container.* When all are filled, freeze for 2-3 hours or until frozen.

To serve, place frozen pops with ice in an ice bucket or cooler.* Frozen pops open easily if you wrap your hand around the pop for a minute. Then open the top and push up from the bottom.

* Kitchen Notes:

  • Sweetness depends on the ripeness of the fruit; really ripe fruit makes a sweeter pop.
  • The puree does not have to be perfectly smooth; small chunks are okay if they’ll fit through the funnel.
  • Puree may be made a day ahead and refrigerated.
  • It’s ok to lay pops down to freeze; the shape will be a bit flat rather than round. When serving, ice is not needed to surround the frozen pops if served within 5 minutes or so.
  • Zipzicle sleeves can be purchased on Amazon. And at Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and Cost Plus/World Market; call first to confirm.

Tropical Cherry Manhattan Pops

1/2 cup Bourbon
1/4 cup Sweet Vermouth
1/4 teaspoon Angostura Aromatic Bitters
3 cups canned cherries in light syrup, drained (about 16 oz.)
3 cups diced fresh pineapple (about 16 oz.)

Follow directions for preparing Mango Tango Pops.
Tropical Manhattan Pops










Posted in Appetizers & Snacks, Desserts, Rita's Kitchen | 8 Responses

Golden Fruit Salsa-Chutney

Fruit salsa, chutney – or can it be a sundae topping?  Take your pick! It’s ‘golden’ any way you serve it. Sweet-tangy golden raisins and summer fruits – peaches, nectarines, strawberries, apricots, and a zing of crystallized ginger.

I created this fresh fruit salsa as a Sun-Maid ice cream sundae topping or fruit salad.  I popped the leftovers in the fridge then forgot about it over the weekend. On Monday, after the fruit macerated further, I thought it looked like chutney. So why not try it with grilled chicken? It’s perfect! The fruits had time to soften and make a chutney-like salsa. I’m adding this one to my grilled chicken repertoire. Let me know if you do!

When freshly made, it’s divine over ice cream or as a simple fruit salad. See my Sun-Maid post for the recipe and as a Sundae!

Serving suggestions either freshly made or after a day or two in the fridge:

  • Breakfast or snack with plain yogurt
  • Over vanilla ice cream for a yummy fresh dessert
  • Over salt and pepper seasoned grilled chicken or pork
  • Dip for salted tortilla chips


Posted in Desserts, Entrees, Rosie's Kitchen | 4 Responses

Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salsa

This refreshing twist on salsa is perfect for summer. Tasty, a bit crunchy and good for you (aside from the chips, of course). A yummy way to eat your veggies. For the corn, leftover cooked corn-on-the-cob is perfect. Just slice it off the cob and separate the kernels.
Tostitos brand “Scoops” are my favorite for this salsa. The scoops make nice mini cups that keep the salsa from jumping onto your lap (or floor). I pop the entire salsa-filled scoop into my mouth! Yumm.

Print This Recipe
Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salsa

1/4     cup Nakano seasoned rice vinegar
1         Tbsp. olive oil
1/2     tsp. each chili powder and ground cumin
1/4     tsp. hot pepper sauce
1         jalapeno, seeded and minced
1        clove garlic, minced
1        can (15-16 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1        cup frozen corn, thawed or canned corn, drained*
1        cup diced red bell pepper
1/4    cup finely chopped red onion
2-3    Tbsp. chopped cilantro

In a medium bowl, combine rice vinegar, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, jalapeno and garlic; stir well. Add remaining ingredients, toss gently. Serve with tortilla chips or my fav, Tostitos Scoops. Salsa keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days. Bring to room temperature to serve.

* Kitchen Notes
For the corn, leftover cooked corn-on-the-cob is prefect. Just slice it off the cob and separate the kernels.
– Because this is not traditional salsa, I place a teaspoon in the serving bowl and stir the salsa a bit before spooning it into my Tostito scoop. The stir adds more of the juices to the scoop (or tortilla chip!).
– Double the recipe to serve more than six people.
– Here’s Rosie’s version: She tossed the salsa with cooked quinoa-grain blend from Trader Joe’s, and served over greens with juicy heirloom tomatoes:

Rita developed this recipe for Nakano many years ago! And still makes it regularly.


Posted in Appetizers & Snacks, Rita's Kitchen, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

English Muffin Bread – perfect for Summer

Summer bread baking – why not? Use your microwave! No hot oven needed. It sounded ludicrous when a colleague mentioned a Fleischmann’s yeast recipe, developed probably in the ‘70s when microwave ovens were the most revolutionary kitchen appliance around.

The recipe is English Muffin bread. A simple, hand-stirred dough that rises in 45-60 minutes in a glass loaf pan, then ‘bakes’ 7 minutes in the microwave. No kidding, that simple. Rita made it during our record heat. Now she’s hooked, and she’s the non-baker between us!  And on a hot day, unless you’ve cranked-up the AC, your kitchen is likely the perfect proofing temperature. The dough rises quickly with a boost of baking soda that adds extra bubbles which translates to butter-soaking nooks and crannies for English Muffin toast.

Yes, since it’s English muffin bread, it’s best toasted. That’s where browning and crispness happens, just like traditional English muffins. There are umpteen variations you can make from cheesy-savory to dried fruit and nuts (see below). Create your own, I think you’ll love it!

Print This Recipe

Microwave English Muffin Bread
Makes 1 loaf, about 16-20 slices. Recipe can be doubled. Bake one pan at a time.
Adapted from Fleischmann’s Yeast recipe, shared by Wolf Appliance

Butter and cornmeal for pan
2-3/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached, or part whole wheat flour (see variations below)
1  package yeast (.25 oz.), undissolved
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
1/4 cup water
See suggestions for flavor variations below

Grease an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch glass loaf pan. Sprinkle bottom and sides with cornmeal; set aside.

Combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir well.

Combine milk and water in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave about 1 minute on high until warm to the touch (105°F-110°F). Add to the dry ingredients with choice of nuts, dried fruit or cheese  if desired; stir well.

Stir in remaining 3/4 cup flour, to make a stiff moist dough. Transfer to prepared pan.

Cover with a dry towel and let rise in a warm place 45-60 minutes, or until it reaches nearly to the top of the pan. Microwave on high power 7 to 8 minutes.  Bread will not brown but will rise a little more and top will be dry. If you have an instant read thermometer, center should be at least 200F.

Let rest 5 minutes in pan. Run a knife around edge and turn out. Cool completely before slicing about 1/2-inch thick. Wrap loaf or slices in plastic bag; keep at room temp 2-3 days. Refrigerate or freeze for longer storage. Toast directly from refrigerator or freezer.

Ready to rise in cornmeal  dusted pan.

Nearly to top after rising 45-60 minutes.

All done! This loaf is orange zest and golden raisins.

Whole Wheat or White: 
Use about 1:1  white and whole wheat flour. The recipe is flexible; use a little more or less whole wheat if you like. And try rye too!
Dried Fruit & Nut:  Your choice of about 1/3 cup raisins, dried cherries, currants, diced apricots and 1/4 cup chopped nuts.
Orange & Walnut with Golden Raisins:  Add 1 tablespoon grated orange zest, 1/3 cup golden raisins and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts.
Cheddar Cheese:  Add 3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese.
Sour Cream & Chive:
  Replace 1/4 cup of the milk with 1/4 cup sour cream; add 1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or freeze-dried.
Garlic:  Add 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.

Rita’s Whole Wheat Raisin

Rosie’s Cheese loaf, and Whole Wheat Raisin



Posted in Breads, Rosie's Kitchen | 8 Responses

Dried Fruit & Nut Crisps

Bake your own crackers! As simple as slice ‘n bake cookies but more wholesome. Packed with dried apricots, raisins, pistachios, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and no added fat, these crackers are as easy as baking a quick bread then slicing and toasting.


For the recipe, jump on over to RaisinYourNutrition for step-by-step instructions. Let me know how your  home-baked crackers venture turns out!

Click here for the recipe.

Recipe and photos by Rosie

Posted in Appetizers & Snacks, Breads, Rosie's Kitchen | 7 Responses

Hydroponic Herbs


Perhaps you’ve noticed Living Herbs in your local grocery store. They’ve become quite popular — as have hydroponic herbs. They are super handy to have especially during chilly months or if you’re not inclined to plant and grow your own herbs.

My Mountain View CA farmers market has a delicious variety of hydroponic herbs. I use the basil regularly. It sits on my window sill, ready to pluck the leaves for bruschetta or add to my chilled asparagus salad.* Convenient!

Hydroponic herbs last for weeks. They come in plastic pouches of sorts, along with their wet roots. To keep the herbs fresh, place them in a large glass (or vase, as I do) and fill with water to the top of the roots. No need to change the water, just keep the roots submerged. As the days go by, the roots won’t look as appealing as the photo above, but that doesn’t affect the flavor or vibrancy of the herb.  Note: If you need lots of herbs, basil pesto for instance, buy big bunches of regular basil.

And now hydroponic herbs are table-side in a Chicago restaurant!

  farmers market hydroponic herbs

*  To make my Italian-style asparagus salad (or broccoli salad or…),
click on Veggie Ice Plunge here.


Posted in Rita's Kitchen, Salads and Dressings | 4 Responses

Irish Raisin Soda Bread with Orange Zest

I’m lucky St. Patrick’s Day inspired a loaf of Raisin Irish Soda Bread in my kitchen. All week I’ve enjoyed it sliced and spread with Irish butter. Want a bite? You can have a loaf ready in an hour, so get started! Visit RaisinYourNutrition for step-by-step to making this super easy wholesome bread. I think you’ll feel happy and lucky!

Posted in Breads, Rosie's Kitchen | 16 Responses

Hollandaise — simply delicious

We think of Hollandaise sauce as a high-end indulgence. Yet it’s simple to make, and… can be made several days ahead. With all the breakfast recipes being posted this time of year, I thought I’d add one of my own.

My “surprise” addition to this classic sauce? Angostura bitters! Perhaps you already guessed that. Bitters give Hollandaise a deeper flavor. And the sauce has broader usage as a luscious topping for salmon and other seafood, for vegetable sides like asparagus or green beans, and of course for simple poached eggs or traditional Eggs Benedict. Remember, you only need a tablespoon or two on those eggs or salmon.

To make Hollandaise ahead: cool, cover and refrigerate. When ready to use, warm up on low heat (in the microwave or on the stovetop), stirring regularly.

Print This Recipe

Makes about 1 cup. Recipe may be doubled.

8      Tbsp. salted butter (1 stick)
3      fresh egg yolks, room temperature
1       Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2   tsp. Angostura aromatic bitters
Cayenne pepper, generous dash

Melt butter in a 1-cup measuring cup in microwave oven. Place egg yolks, lemon juice, Angostura bitters and cayenne pepper in blender container; blend on low speed 15 seconds.

Continue running blender on low, and slowly pour in butter. Continue to blend 30-45 seconds more.

For a thinner Hollandaise, add hot water a tablespoon at a time while running blender on low. Spoon warm sauce over eggs, or serve in a small pitcher.

Nutrition information for 2 tablespoons: 130 calories, 1g protein, 1g carb, 13g fat, (8g sat. fat), 110mg chol, 90mg sodium, 0g fiber

Recipe & photo by Rita Held for Angostura USA


Posted in Entrees, Rita's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces | 13 Responses

Sweet Heart Cocoa Coconut Torte

Have your cake and no sugar too!

No added sugar and no gluten, but plenty of flavor! Cocoa Coconut Torte is sweetened with raisin and date puree like my Raisin-Date Apple Muffins. The cake is rich and sweet, similar to a flourless chocolate torte. Ground almonds replace flour for a little extra fiber and protein. So you really can have your cake and eat it too!

Jump on over to the Sun-Maid blog for the recipe and step by step instructions. It’s super easy to make, just blend then stir. Bake in a round cake pan, cup cakes or mini cupcakes. But what fun I had using my valentine pan 🙂


About coconut oil:
Coconut oil is available at supermarkets usually with the vegetable and olive oils. It is firm at room temp so a bit of a misnomer to be called oil because it looks like a solid fat. Some recipes call for melting but I found that unnecessary. Just a small amount adds a lot of coconut flavor.  It is especially good with chocolate in baked goods.

About almond flour:
I’ve tested almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand that uses blanched almonds) and almond meal (Trader Joe’s which is unblanched and slightly coarser than Bob’s).  Very little difference in the baked product. If you don’t have a scale to weigh 140 grams, slightly pack the cup using a level measuring cup.

About coconut chips vs shredded coconut:
In this recipe, because it is no added sugar, I used unsweetened shredded coconut (not sweetened flaked) in the cake, and untoasted chips on top.  If you don’t have chips, just leave it plain! The chips are mostly for decoration.


Posted in Desserts, Rosie's Kitchen | 2 Responses