Mommy Cafe

Vegetarian home cooking, kid tested and approved

Peanut Butter Truffles

Happy New Year!  Now is the time when everyone is making resolutions, many of which involve eating more healthfully.  Perfect time to post a decadent, irresistible truffles recipe, right?!

I made a pamper basket for my sister-in-law who just had a baby four months ago.  Giving me such an adorable nephew deserved a special thank-you gift at Christmas.  Since I already planned on dark chocolate truffles, it only made sense to add some brightness to the basket with another light-colored treat.  Enter white chocolate.  Peanut butter was an all too easy pairing with the white chocolate, but what to add to the peanut butter to make them something extra special took a few days of thought.  Then inspiration hit.

Candy canes.

That’s right.  I crushed up some good old-fashioned candy cane and stirred it in.  It was delicious.  But not perfect.


What?  Yeah that’s right, pretzels.  Also crushed into small pieces.  This made for some discomfort while rolling out the truffles, but it was worth it.  I know this, because I tested one out of the sister-in-law’s batch.  Maybe six.  Sorry, Amy.

These take a lot of time to make, but most of it is inactive time waiting for the truffles to chill.

Estimated time:  5 hours total, 40 minutes active       Estimated cost: $6, depending on quality of PB

Peanut Butter Truffles

  • 12 oz peanut butter (the best quality you’re willing to buy)
  • 24 oz package almond bark or white chocolate
  • 1 candy cane, crushed finely
  • 1/2 cup pretzels, crushed

Soften 6 oz almond bark in microwave, stirring every 15 seconds until melted.  Add peanut butter and stir until smooth.  Mix in crushed candy cane and pretzels.  Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out a portion of the chilled mixture and form into a ball by gently rolling it in your hands.  Place truffles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and chill 2 hours.

Melt remaining almond bark in a double boiler over medium heat.  Using a fork, dip truffles and roll to coat.  Return the coated truffle to the parchment-lined cookie sheet to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen truffles.



January 4, 2012 Posted by | Baked Goodies, Recipes, Vegetarian | , , | 4 Comments

Tuna Pasta Salad

I’ll be honest, I completely forgot that today was the official $5 Challenge day!  Will and I had a picnic lunch with my parents this afternoon, 2 hours from home, so our meal options were severely limited to anything that could withstand the drive there and back.

I improved upon a pasta salad that I brought to a potluck a few weeks ago.  It went over well the first time, but I thought it was missing a little something.  This time around I nailed it!  I added tuna for an extra protein boost, but it can definitely be left out to turn this back to a vegetarian meal.  I used Anaheim peppers, because that is the one thing that has grown in abundance in my garden, but Will thought it was a little too spicy as a result.  I recommend sticking with red bell peppers if you’re feeding kids… or less adventurous adults.  However, even my 1-1/2 year-old buddy loved the noodles, which had picked up a little bit of the heat from the peppers.

Since we were biking after lunch, and because it’s too darn chilly to be filled by a simple pasta salad lunch, I wanted something to round out the meal.  I served some tasty baking soda biscuit-type muffins with local honey– which, incidentally, is great for keeping the ragweed blues at bay!  For the salad and the muffins, this meal probably cost around $6.  Will and I each had lunch size servings of the pasta (okay, I had two), plus the folks had a share as well.  There are easily four servings left.  I’m a little too sleepy to do the math, but I think the cost per serving works out to somewhere around dirt cheap!

$5 Challenge: mission accomplished!

Prep and cook time: 15 minutes     Estimated cost: $5.50

Tuna Pasta Salad

  • 1 box tri-colored rotini, cooked and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper (or something spicier if you’re brave!), diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • Dash each of salt, pepper, and sugar, or more to taste

Toss the salad ingredients together.   To make the dressing, combine ingredients  in a small container with a lid and shake until well-mixed.  Add dressing to the salad and stir gently to combine.  This salad is best when chilled for an hour.

Serves 4 for a meal, 8 as a side



September 17, 2011 Posted by | Recipes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rice with Black Beans and Chili-Cheese

Mmm, this hearty meal is perfect for cool weather.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find a lot of rice entrees on my weekly menu plans when the weather gets chilly.  It’s such a warming food, and especially when you pair it with a little heat from green chilies!

I found this recipe from the Vegetarian Express cookbook a couple of years ago.  After the first bite, Will decided this was the meal he wanted me to make for a Winter Solstice potluck.  We ended up not going to the potluck since the weather was so unpleasant, but that just meant we didn’t have to share our new favorite dish!

This is such a simple dish, and when served with a salad makes a perfect weeknight dinner.

Prep and cook time: 40 minutes      Approximate cost: $7 for a pan

Riced with Black Beans and Chili-Cheese

  • 6-serving portion of quick-cooking brown rice
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4-oz can chopped mild green chilies
  • 4 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 15-oz part-skim ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a 1 1/2-qt baking dish.

Prepare the rice according to package directions.  Briefly saute the garlic and onion in a tablespoon of olive oil until golden.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked rice with the beans, garlic, and onion.  In another dish, combine the cheddar and ricotta cheeses with the green chilies.  Layer half of the rice and bean mixture into the baking dish, followed by half of the cheddar-ricotta mixture, and repeat.

Bake the casserole for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, let stand for a minute or two, then cut into squares and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Recipes, Vegetarian | , , , , | 1 Comment

Mexican Lasagna

I’m back!  These past few months have been a whirlwind of activity, which means dinners have too often been the same old same old.  I was feeling a bit stuck in a food rut that was not worthy of publishing.  But tonight I broke out my favorite combination of ingredients (you guessed it– black beans, corn, and cumin!) and started mixing, and got myself back oMexican Lasagnan track!

My memory may be faltering these days, but I can always remember a good meal.  Back in my Gateway Hotel days, conference services would frequently make one of those unforgettable meals– a Mexican lasagna that made my tummy happy.  It was a pretty meaty dish, as most lasagnas are, but gosh darnit I’ve been wanting it!  And so desire leads to creation, or something like that.

This dish got two thumbs up from Will, although it took some time for him to articulate with words as he was too busy shoveling food into his mouth to speak.  When he did speak, his only critique was that it wasn’t really Mexican food.  So here is my recipe for not-so-Mexican lasagna.

Prep and cook time: 60 minutes        Approximate cost: $8 for a pan

Mexican Lasagna

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 each red and green pepper, diced large
  • Taco seasoning (store-bought, or see my homemade recipe with Taco Stromboli)
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn
  • 10 oz ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 oz can diced chilies
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • Salsa

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Saute the onions and peppers in olive oil until tender-crisp.  Add taco seasoning, beans, corn, and 1/8 cup of water.  Simmer until the water absorbs.

Meanwhile, combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, and chilies in a small bowl and mix well.

Line a casserole dish with a layer of corn tortillas.  Top with half of the vegetable mixture, then half of the cheese mixture.  Spread a thin layer of salsa on the cheese and top with another layer of tortillas. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and cheese, another layer of salsa, and tortillas.  Spread one last layer of salsa on top of the tortillas and cover with remaining 2 cups of cheddar cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until cheese starts to turn bubbly and brown.

Serves 6 to 8

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Recipes, Vegetarian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cauliflower Mash

I admit, this recipe is ripped off from probably dozens of places, but I got this version from a South Beach cookbook.  (FYI, I do not recommend the SB diet, but there are some tasty, healthy recipes in the cookbooks that I do recommend– as long as you maintain a varied diet that includes whole grains and fruits.) 

I don’t find this an equal substitute for mashed potatoes, but the cauliflower version is equally delicious in its own right.  Even if you don’t like cauliflower, I can just about guarantee you’ll enjoy this dish!  For an added flavor boost, toss in some freshly grated nutmeg (for a sweetly mild boost) or curry powder (for something a little more complex).

Prep and cook time: 10 minutes. Cost: about $0.50 per serving.

Cauliflower Mash

  • 4 cups cauliflower
  • 1 to 2 T. butter
  • Splash of milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Steam cauliflower for about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Puree in food processor with milk and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Recipes, Vegetarian | , , , , | Leave a comment