Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Category: Holiday Favorites

Apple Date (or Prune!) Bars

Here’s another recipe that I found online and thought was worth re-posting. It’s delicious for breakfast or as a snack and contains tons of great vitamins, fiber, and nutrients. Instead of using regular flour, I opted for the gluten-free kind since I sometimes cut out all gluten products for a week. I find that going gluten-free for periods of time gives me more energy. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using regular flour. Since I did not have dates on hand (which the recipe requires), I chose to use prunes instead. The results were fantastic, even without the dates. I added some extra cinnamon to the recipe as well. If you don’t have ground cloves or nutmeg on hand, you can use pumpkin pie spice as well, which is an excellent substitute. Here’s the full recipe…let me know what you think!

Chocolate-Peppermint Holiday Cookies

Need a good cookie recipe for Christmas eve or Christmas day? Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, you can’t go wrong with these festive holiday cookies. I’ve been baking batches of these for my co-workers and friends. Enjoy with a cup of hot cocoa, tea, or coffee!


3 cups of all-purpose flour
1.5 cups of sugar
1 large egg
1 cup butter, softened / at room temperature
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
crushed candy canes, about a handful


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
3. In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. A hand mixer might come in handy here.
4. Add the egg and vanilla and beat together with the butter and sugar.
5. Carefully mix in the dry ingredients until the mixture turns into a smooth dough.
6. Put teaspoonfuls of dough on ungreased cookie sheets (use parchment paper for best results) and bake for 8-10 minutes in the oven.
7. After 8-10 minutes, cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring them to a wire rack or sheets of aluminum foil.
8. Crush the candy canes by putting them in a small zip-loc bag and running a rolling pin over them.
9. Melt the chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl in the microwave, until smooth. This usually doesn’t take longer than 2 minutes.

10. Once the cookies are COMPLETELY cool, spread a teaspoon of molten chocolate over the cookies and sprinkle crushed candy canes over them.

No time to make dough from scratch? Simply buy store-bought ready-to-bake dough, add the chocolate-peppermint toppingĀ and you’ll get the same results! Happy holidays!

Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

I absolutely love this drink! It’s perfect for the holidays and cold weather and it tastes like a dessert, while still being fairly low-cal. It takes only a couple of minutes to whip this up, so please give it a try!

Ingredients (for 1 cup)

3/4 of a mug or cup of milk (whatever you’re serving this in)
3 teaspoons of Ovaltine Rich Chocolate
1/2 shot of Kahlua, or another coffee liqueur
Whipped cream

Grown-Up Hot Chocolate


1. Microwave milk in mug or cup until warm, usually about 1:30 to 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.

2. Add half a shot of Kahlua and stir.

3. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir if desired.

Cranberry-Brie Bites

Great for entertaining and a fabulous holiday appetizer! If you’ve never tried Brie, you have to give it a try. It’s one of the creamiest cheeses out there with a slight nutty flavor. Sure, you can make a baked brie torte, but this recipe puts a nice twist on traditional baked brie, scales much better (it’s easy to put out some more when you’re running low), and can be served as finger food, no silverware required!


Cranberry-Orange Sauce, recipe found below
1 French baguette
1 wedge of French Brie, any kind


1. Take out the Brie about half an hour before you assemble this appetizer. It’s easiest to cut when it’s at room temperature.

2. Once you’ve made the cranberry-orange sauce, put it on low heat so it stays warm.

3. Cut French baguette into small, round wedges and top with a slice of Brie. Put in the toaster oven until Brie starts to melt and bubbles up a little.

4. Take out the bread and top with a small spoon of cranberry-orange sauce.

For a nice variation, you can also try thinly sliced pieces of red onion on top of the Brie. Serve with chilled wine.

Cranberry-Brie Bites

Spinach and Mushroom Risotto Bake with Parmesan and Sundried Tomatoes or Bacon

Risotto Bake

Take the Spinach and Mushroom Risotto (below) and top it with the following:

Ingredients (for 4 people)

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes, coarsely chopped OR
3/4 cup of crumbled bacon (pan fried or microwaved)


1. Prepare the spinach and mushroom risotto according to directions.

2. Preheat oven to 350.

3. Crumble bacon or chop up sundried tomatoes (these usually come in jars). If you want to be really adventurous, try topping the casserole with both! Morningstar Farms also makes a veggie bacon if you want to keep this meat-free.

4. Top the risotto with all ingredients and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until cheese has melted. If you want to speed up the process, put the dish under the broiler for a few minutes. Enjoy!

Risotto Bake with Sundried Tomotoes or Bacon

Spinach and Mushroom Risotto with Pine Nuts

This dish is great by itself, but also try the Risotto bake for a casserole-like variation.

(for 4 people)

1/2 bag of fresh spinach
1 container of baby bella (portobello) mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of Arborio rice
3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
5 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 stick of butter
A handful of pine nuts
Salt to taste
Water, as needed

Spinach Mushroom Risotto


1. Chop the garlic and saute the Arborio rice in the butter in a medium sauce pan on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir occasionally. Keep cooking until rice is al dente. If needed, add more water. The risotto should be creamy and not too dry when done.

3. Slice the mushrooms and saute with the spinach and garlic in olive oil, add salt to taste. When spinach is just wilted, add in the pine nuts and saute for 2 more minutes.

4. Add to the warm risotto until mixed well and serve immediately.

Hearty Turnip Greens

A wonderful weekday side dish that’s ready in minutes. Top with French fried onions and take to a potluck or serve as a Thanksgiving dinner side. The nice thing about this side is that you can turn it into a vegetarian dish by simply adding soy instead of ground meat. Or, if you like your greens all by themselves, leave out the soy or meat and serve alone. Either way should be great.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

1/2 16 Oz bag of frozen turnip greens
1 cup of soy crumbles, ground turkey or beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of butter
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Hearty Turnip Greens


1. Chop onion and melt butter in pan on medium heat.

2. Add soy, turkey, or beef, and onions and saute until lightly browned.

3. Microwave frozen turnips for 2 minutes and add to pan. Add nutmeg (goes great with dark greens), salt, and pepper.

4. Saute for another 5-7 minutes. Serve warm.

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